Week of May 17 Evening News Ratings: ABC, NBC, CBS See Losses From the Previous Week

By A.J. Katz 

Each of the three major evening newscasts saw ratings losses from the previous week and from the same week in 2020.

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir finished the week of May 17 at as the No. 1 evening newscast, averaging nearly 7.6 million total viewers and 1.4 million adults 25-54. That’s a larger audience than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 60th consecutive week.

World News Tonight was also the fourth-most-watched show on all of TV last week (excluding syndication).


That said, the newscast shed -4% in average total viewers, and lost -7% of its A25-54 audience from the previous week (May 10),  Compared to the same week in 2020 (May 18), World News Tonight dropped -23% in its average total audience, and lost a quarter of its A25-54 audience (-25%). The year-over-year decline isn’t surprising. The news cycle has calmed quite a bit relative to last year, and that means less of a desire to watch the evening news.

Despite the decline, World News Tonight still 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 more than 6.2 million total viewers and 1.1 million adults 25-54 on linear this past week.

Compared to the prior week, the newscast fell by -5% in total viewers, and -7% in adults 25-54. Relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly was -29% in total viewers, and lost more than 1/3 of its A25-54 audience (-35%).

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 earned an average of 887,000 views, with the average viewer watching for more than 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 averaged nearly 4.7 million total viewers, and 807,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s a decline of just -1% in total viewers, and -2% in adults 25-54 from the prior week. The newscast shed -22% in total viewers and -23% in adults 25-54 vs. the year-ago week.

Despite the year-over-year drop, the CBS Evening News was the most-watched show on the network last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Additionally, Evening News is the closest it’s been to Nightly News among adults 25-54 at this point in a season since 2015-2016.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of May 17, 2021

• Total Viewers: 7,559,000 6,203,000 4,690,000
• A25-54: 1,395,000 1,133,000 807,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 5/17/21), Previous Week (w/o 5/10/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 5/18/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-5/23/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-5/25/20). 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.