Week of March 15 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Is Most-Watched Show on TV, But Loses Traction From Prior Week

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir averaged nearly 8.7 million total viewers and 1.65 million adults 25-54 during the week of March 15. That’s better than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 51st consecutive week.

Compared to the prior week, however, World News Tonight continues to see an audience drop off. The newscast lost -2% of its average total audience, and was -3% in the key A25-54 demo. Compared to the same week one year ago, World News Tonight shed -43% of its adults 25-54 audience, and -31% in total viewers.

The double-digit percent audience decline vs. 2020 makes sense. The coronavirus-related shutdowns first took hold in cities around the country at this time one year ago. Americans started to hunker down and watch more news than usual for updates. As a result, the evening newscasts started to attract abnormally huge audiences (especially World News Tonight), and all three of them started airing multiple editions. Don’t be surprised to see this trend for all three evening newscasts continue through the spring.


Despite the mediocre ratings trend, World News Tonight is delivering its largest average total viewership in 16 years.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 7.1 million total viewers and just 1.25 million adults 25-54 on linear last week.

Compared to the prior week, Nightly News was -3% in total viewers and -7% among adults 25-54. Relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly fell -41% in total viewers, and a whopping -62% among adults 25-54.

Unlike ABC’s and CBS’ evening newscasts, NBC’s flagship newscast streams on YouTube and is able to garner some additional eyeballs that way (eyeballs which aren’t measured by Nielsen). On YouTube, Nightly’s full episodes reach an average of nearly 1 million views, with the average viewer watching for close to 12 minutes. That’s according to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals, and the YouTube Analytics Portal.

Third-place CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell gave NBC Nightly News a rare run for its money in the adults 25-54 demo, averaging 1.02 million viewers from the measurement this past week. That’s up +8% from the prior week, and the tightest margin with Nightly since May 2015. CBS Evening News also averaged 5.4 million total viewers, which is up +2% from the prior week. Compared to the year-ago, however, Evening News, like the competition, was down double digits in total viewers (-29%), and double digits in the demo (-38%).

CBS Evening News was the most-watched show on CBS on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and No. 1 among Adults 25-54 on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of March 15, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 8,864,000 7,104,000 5,430,000
• A25-54: 1,652,000 1,254,000 1,016,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 3/16/21), Previous Week (w/o 3/8/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 3/`16/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-3/21/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-3/22/20). Social media video views: Conviva (w/o 3/15/21). 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.