It was an abnormal week for evening news ratings due to the federal holiday on Monday, July 5, and live sporting events in primetime.
The network newscasts decided not to submit proper titles for Nielsen to rate on multiple days. In fact, ABC World News Tonight was only Nielsen-rated for one day last week (Wednesday, July 7), while NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News were rated for three days.
Why was World News Tonight only rated for a single day? ABC retitled and excluded Monday’s broadcast because it knew viewership would be low on a federal holiday, which is standard network practice at this point; NBC and CBS took the same action for the same reason. On Tuesday and Thursday, the network presented live primetime coverage of the 2021 NBA Finals, which began at 8 p.m. ET with the NBA Countdown pregame show and continued through primetime. As a result, the newscast did not air in the usual evening slot for markets in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. Most markets in those time zones ended up taking the live East Coast feed of World News Tonight.
ABC has retitled broadcasts of World News Tonight in the past during periods of NBA Finals coverage, as these events impact viewership in many markets.
While the decision to retitle and exclude the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday broadcasts from the ratings averages is somewhat understandable, it’s not clear why World News Tonight retitled its Friday broadcast.
Nevertheless, the aforementioned World News Tonight with David Muir finished the week—that is, July 5—with a 8.37 million total viewer average, to go with a 1.68 million adults 25-54 average. That’s a larger average audience than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 67th consecutive week.
World News Tonight was also the most-watched program on U.S. TV (excluding sports and syndication).
Compared with the previous week (week of June 28), which consisted of four Nielsen-rated days, World News Tonight was up by +10% in total viewers, and +26% in the key A25-54 demo. Compared to the year-ago week, ABC’s evening newscast lost -7% of its average total audience, and -3% of its A25-54 demo audience.
World News Tonight holds its largest season lead over both NBC and CBS in 26 years—since the 1994-1995 season, when Peter Jennings was still anchor.
Speaking of NBC, Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 6.52 million total viewers and 1.2 million adults 25-54 on linear this past week, making it the third-most-watched show on TV (excluding sports and syndication) for the fifth consecutive week, and the No. 5 show among adults 25-54.
Compared to the prior week, NBC’s evening newscast shed -2% in total viewers, but gained +1% adults 25-54. Relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly shed -14% in total viewers, and lost -19% of its A25-54 audience.
NBC’s flagship newscast streams full episodes on YouTube and is able to garner some additional eyeballs that way (eyeballs which aren’t measured by Nielsen). Nightly’s full weekday episodes on YouTube earned an average of 545,000 viewers. That’s according to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals, and the YouTube Analytics Portal.
Similar to ABC, NBC declined to count ratings on a night during which it televised a primetime sporting event (in this case, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, July 7). However, unlike ABC, NBC counted ratings for its Friday broadcast, traditionally the lowest-rated day of the week.
CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 5.04 million total viewers, and 894,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s a +3% gain in total viewers, and +5% in adults 25-54 from the prior week. However, CBS Evening News fell by -7% in total viewers and -10% in A25-54 viewers from the comparable week in 2020.
Similar to ABC, CBS declined to count its Friday broadcast.
Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of July 5, 2021:
|• Total Viewers:||8,371,000||6,522,000||5,036,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 7/5/21), Previous Week (w/o 6/28/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 7/6/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-7/11/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-7/12/20). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.