Week of May 3 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Marks 58 Straight Weeks at No. 1, But Loses Some Adults 25-54

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir was the No. 1 evening newscast for the week of May 3, averaging 7.95 million total viewers and nearly 1.5 million adults 25-54. While low for the newscast, that’s still a better delivery than its NBC and CBS evening news counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo for the 58th straight week.

World News Tonight was the third-most-watched U.S. TV show of the week, excluding sports and syndicated programming.

The newscast was flat in average total audience, but shed -2% of its A25-54 demo audience from the prior week (April 26). We should expect to see additional audience losses as the weather improves.


Compared to the same week in 2020, World News Tonight dropped -22% in its average total audience, and more than a quarter of its A25-54 audience (-27%). Again, the decline isn’t surprising. We were still in the first wave of the pandemic, where many Americans remained glued to the evening news, and networks decided to air multiple editions per day, a move which boosts ratings. Needless to say, the news cycle has calmed quite a bit since that time last year, and this means less of a desire to watch the evening news.

Nevertheless, World News Tonight currently 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 nearly 6.5 million total viewers and 1.2 million adults 25-54 on linear this past week.

Compared to the prior week, the newscast shed -2% in total viewers, and -4% of its adults 25-54 audience. Relative to the same week in 2020, Nightly was -28% in total viewers, and -36% among adults 25-54. Not so hot.

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 1 million viewerss, 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 just 4.9 million total viewers, and 816,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s a decline of -3% in total viewers and -1% in adults 25-54 viewers from the prior week. The newscast was down -24% in total viewers and -29% 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 CBS last Wednesday, it’s the closest it’s been to Nightly News through 33 weeks of a season since 2015-2016.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of May 3, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 7,945,000 6,458,000 4,858,000
• A25-54: 1,476,000 1,174,000 816,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 5/3/21), Previous Week (w/o 4/26/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 5/4/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-5/9/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-5/11/20). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Beginning Aug. 31, 2020, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.