ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts saw week-to-week audience gains driven by coverage of the 2022 Midterm Elections.
ABC World News Tonight with David Muir held onto its No. 1 ranking in the Nielsen ratings — it has now defeated its evening news competition from NBC and CBS 206 of the past 207 weeks in average total viewers—and 135 of the last 137 weeks among adults 25-54.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for the week of Nov. 7, World News Tonight averaged 8.46 million total linear viewers, the second-largest audience of any U.S. TV show, excluding sports programming. That figure represents a gain of +8% from the prior week (Oct. 31), and the program’s largest advantage over its competition in nearly nine months.
World News Tonight also averaged more than 1.46 million adults 25-54 this past week, which is +13% from the prior week. The newscast gained +2% in total viewers but actually lost -2% among adults 25-54 versus the same week one year ago (Nov. 8, 2021).
On Election Day (Nov. 8, ’22) and Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11, ’22), World News Tonight was retitled to “WNT-ABC.” The telecasts are excluded from the weekly averages and season averages, meaning the week of Nov. 7 ratings averages for World News Tonight are based on only three days (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday).
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt—the second-ranked evening newscast—averaged 6.83 million total viewers on linear this past week, which is +4% from the prior week, and 1.22 million adults 25-54 on linear, which is +9% from the previous week. Tuesday’s Election Day broadcast marked Nightly’s largest single-day A25-54 audience in over six months (since March 30), and the 1.22 million A25-54 viewer average is the newscast’s largest average audience in the measurement since late-March. On the downside, NBC’s evening newscast lost -3% in total viewers and -3% in A25-54 viewers from the year-ago week, which was an election-less week.
According to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals—and the YouTube Analytics Portal, full weekday episodes of NBC Nightly News earned an average of 775,000 views and 615,000 viewers last week.
CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 5.025 million total viewers this past week, which is +5% from the previous week, but -3% from the year-ago week. Additionally, Evening News averaged 859,000 adults 25-54 this past week, which is +9% from the previous week but -2% from the year-ago week.
On Tuesday, CBS Evening News was coded as a special due to coverage of the midterms. The telecast is excluded from the weekly averages and season averages, and CBS’s averages are based on four days (Monday and Wednesday-Friday).
How did the three evening newscasts fare relative to the most recent Midterms week (week of Nov. 5, 2018)? Not particularly well. WNT is -3% in total viewers and -22% among adults 25-54; Nightly News is -20% in total viewers and -39% in A25-54, while Evening News is -20% in total viewers and -32% in A25-54. The audience losses aren’t shocking. For one, in addition to covering the Midterms, evening newscasts dispatched talent to go cover the horrific California wildfires which transpired that week in 2018. Major news events traditionally mean larger-than-normal audiences for the evening newscasts. Secondly, evening news viewership has declined in recent years (with 2020 being a unique exception), especially among Americans under 55, who are increasingly turning to digital, not linear, platforms for their daily dose of the news.
Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Nov. 7, 2022:
|• Total Viewers:||8,459,000||6,833,000||5,025,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 11/7/22), Previous Week (w/o 10/31/22) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 11/8/21). Most Current Data Stream: Season 2022-2023 (9/19 – 11/13/22), Season 2021-2022 (9/20 – 11/14/21). 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.