Week of March 29 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Marks 53 Straight Weeks at No. 1, Loses Viewers From Prior Week

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir was the No. 1 evening newscast for the week of March 29, averaging more than 8.1 million total viewers and 1.55 million adults 25-54. That’s better than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 53rd straight week.

World News Tonight was the most-watched show on TV last week (excluding sports). However, compared to the prior week, the newscast lost -4% of its average total audience, and was -6% in the key A25-54 demo. Compared to the same week in 2020, ABC World News Tonight lost -41% in its average total audience, and half of its adults 25-54 audience. The year-over-year drop makes some sense, and it’s a trend that will continue for all of the evening newscasts. The week of March 30, 2020 featured a plethora of major news events, including New York needing a hospital ship, tents in Central Park; unemployment skyrocketing. The evening newscasts also aired multiple editions per day at this time last year, which boosts ratings.

Despite the less-than-stellar ratings trend, World News Tonight is delivering its largest average total viewership in 16 years.


NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 6.9 million total viewers and nearly 1.3 million adults 25-54 this past week. The 6.93 million total viewer average marks Nightly’s closest gap vs. ABC in total viewers in 13 weeks (since Dec. 28, 2020).

Compared to the prior week, Nightly News was flat in total viewers and adults 25-54. However, relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly fell -35% in total viewers, and -51% 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 700,000 views, with the average viewer watching for close to 13 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 averaged 4.9 million total viewers and just 825,000 adults 25-54. That’s a drop of -6% in total viewers and -14 % in adults 25-54 compared to the prior week; -33% in total viewers and -46% in adults 25-54 vs. the news-heavy week one year ago.

CBS Evening News was the most-watched show on CBS Tuesday and Wednesday.

It’s worth noting that due to Good Friday, World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News did not count their April 2 ratings toward the weekly and season averages. In addition, on Monday (March 29), CBS Evening News was retitled due to the NCAA Tournament. ABC and NBC’s weekly averages are based on four days (Monday-Thursday) and CBS’ weekly averages are based on just three days (Tuesday-Thursday).

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of March 29, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 8,135,000 6,928,000 4,911,000
• A25-54: 1,553,000 1,265,000 825,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 3/29/21), Previous Week (w/o 3/22/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 3/30/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-4/4/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-4/5/20). 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.