Week of May 24 Evening News Ratings: All 3 Major Evening Newscasts Post Week-to-Week Viewer Growth

By A.J. Katz 

Some positive news for ABC, NBC and CBS’ evening newscasts: Each saw audience growth from the prior week.

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir finished the week of May 24 with a 7.73 million total viewer average, to go with a 1.47 million adults 25-54 average. 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 61th consecutive week.

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


Compared with the previous week (May 17)  World News Tonight improved by +2% in total viewers and +5% in the key A25-54 demo. Compared to the same week in 2020 (May 25), World News Tonight dropped -18% in its average total audience, and lost nearly a quarter of its A25-54 audience (-22%). 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 year-over-year decline, 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 6.4 million total viewers and 1.78 million adults 25-54 on linear this past week.

The 6.4 million total viewer average for the week represents the newscast’s closest finish behind ABC in 21 weeks (since the week of December 28, 2020). Additionally, NBC’s evening newscast averaged 6.43 million total viewers for the month of May, which represents the closest total viewer gap versus ABC since last November.

Compared to the prior week, the newscast grew +3% in total viewers, and +4% in adults 25-54. Relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly fell by -23% in total viewers, and -30% in A25-54 viewers.

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 748,000 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 4.78 million total viewers, and 859,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s an improvement of +2% in total viewers, and +6% in adults 25-54 from the prior week. The newscast shed -16% in total viewers and -15% in adults 25-54 from the year-ago week.

CBS Evening News was the most-watched show on the network Monday, Wednesday and Thursday last week. 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.

NOTE: ABC’s, CBS’ and NBC’s weekly evening newscast averages are based on just four days (Mon-Thurs). Each retitled its respective Friday broadcasts.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of May 24, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 7,731,000 6,402,000 4,778,000
• A25-54: 1,466,000 1,177,000 859,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 5/24/21), Previous Week (w/o 5/17/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 5/25/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-5/30/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-5/31/20). 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.