Week of Nov. 22 Evening News Ratings: For First Time in 3 Years, NBC Nightly News Is Most-Watched Newscast During Thanksgiving-Shortened Week

By A.J. Katz 

Live-plus-same-day Nielsen data for the week of Nov. 22, 2021 is in and, for the first time in 3 years (156 weeks), NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged more total viewers than any other evening newscast, 8.58 million. That’s the the newscast’s largest average weekly audience since last December—and the largest average audience of any weekday program for the week, excluding sports and syndication.

The 8.58 million number is +19% relative to what the newscast averaged the previous week (Nov. 15). Nightly News also averaged 1.47 million adults 25-54 during the Thanksgiving-shortened week, which is also +19% from the previous week. Additionally, compared with the Thanksgiving-shortened week in 2020, NBC Nightly News was down by -2% in average total audience and -13% among adults 25-54.

On YouTube, full weekday episodes of Nightly News averaged 664,000 views and nearly 539,000 viewers this past week. That’s according to Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals; YouTube Analytics Portal.


It’s worth noting that NBC Nightly News’ weekly ratings average is based on just three days (Monday, Tuesday and Friday). The newscast was coded as a “special” on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Thursday. Those special broadcasts are excluded from the weekly and season averages.

Despite finishing runner-up in average total viewers for the first time in years, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir remained the top evening newscast during Thanksgiving week among adults 25-54, and has earned more viewers in the ad-friendly demo 84 of the last 86 weeks.

World News Tonight averaged 1.48 million viewers from the key demo, and 8.39 million total viewers during the Thanksgiving-shortened week. Unlike NBC, World News Tonight’s weekly ratings average is based on just two days (Monday and Tuesday). ABC decided to retitle the evening newscast on Thanksgiving eve (Wednesday) and Thanksgiving Thursday and the Friday edition of WNT was preempted in most of the country by primetime college football.

If one compares the two days when both newscasts went head-to-head and were Nielsen-rated (Monday and Tuesday), World News Tonight actually comes out on top. However, ABC didn’t count Friday (even if it had its reasons not to) and NBC did, and that move puts NBC over the top for the week in average total viewers.

Let’s not forget about the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, which averaged 5.325 million total viewers during the week of Nov. 22. That number is -1% from previous week. The newscast averaged 942,000 adults 25-54, which is actually +6% from the prior week. Similar to ABC and NBC, CBS saw year-over-year losses in average total viewers (-15%), and among adults 25-54 (-20%).

Similar to ABC, CBS Evening News’ weekly Nielsen ratings averages are based on just two days (Monday and Tuesday). The newscast was coded as a special on Wednesday and Friday, and it was preempted for the Raiders-Cowboys broadcast on Thanksgiving Thursday.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Nov. 22, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 8,389,000 8,578,000 5,325,000
• A25-54: 1,482,000 1,471,000 942,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 11/22/21), Previous Week (w/o 11/15/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 11/23/20). Most Current: 2021-2022 Season (9/20 – 11/21/21) and 2020-2021 Season (9/21 – 11/22/20). Most Current: 2021 -2022 Season (9/20 – 11/21/21) and 2020 -2021 Season (9/21 – 11/22/20). Sweeps based on Most Current: November 2021 Sweep (10/28 – 11/24/21), November 2020 Sweep (10/29 – 11/25/20) and July 2021 Sweep (7/1 – 7/28/21). Sweep periods (November, February, May and July). 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.