Week of March 8 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Marks 50 Straight Weeks at No. 1, But All 3 Newscasts See Losses

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir averaged 8.9 million total viewers and 1.7 million adults 25-54 during the week of March 8. That’s better than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 50th consecutive week.

Compared to the prior week,  however, World News Tonight’s performance was less than spectacular. The newscast lost -4% of its average total viewers, and was was -6% in the key A25-54 demo. Compared to the same week one year ago, World News Tonight shed -11% of its adults 25-54 audience, and -19% in total viewers.

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


NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 7.3 million total viewers and 1.35 million adults 25-54 on linear last week.

Compared to the prior week, Nightly News was -3% in total viewers but just -1% among adults 25-54. However, the newscast fell -14% in total viewers, and a whopping -30% among adults 25-54.

Despite the drop off, this is actually the closest Nightly News has been to World News Tonight in a month.

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 reached an average of 1 million viewers last week, with 30-40% of those watching on their TV via the YouTube app. That’s according to data from YouTube Analytics Portal.

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell  averaged 5.3 million total viewers and only 939,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s -3% in total viewers and -8% in the demo from the prior week. Compared to the year-ago, Evening News was down  -12% in total viewers, and -21% in the demo.

That said, Evening News ranked as the No. 1 telecast on CBS Network in total viewers Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on Adults 25-54 on Wednesday and Friday last week. Through 25 weeks this season, CBS Evening News is growing +1% in total viewers and is flat in the demo.

What’s up with these severe year-over-year losses?

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 had multiple editions. One shouldn’t be surprised if we see year-over-year ratings decline for the three evening newscasts the remainder of March through April.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of March 8, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 8,863,000 7,291,000 5,337,000
• A25-54: 1,695,000 1,354,000 939,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 3/1/21), Previous Week (w/o 2/22/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 3/2/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-3/7/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-3/8/20). Social media video views: Conviva (w/o 3/8/21). 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.