Week of Sept. 21 Evening News Ratings: ABC World News Tonight Opens Season With Across-the-Board Win

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight With David Muir opened 2020-2021 with an across-the-board ratings win.

ABC’s flagship newscast averaged nearly 8.5 million total viewers and 1.7 million adults 25-54 for the week of Sept. 21, 2020. That’s the newscast’s largest premiere week audience in 15 years, and a larger audience than its NBC and CBS competition for the 26th consecutive week.

All three evening newscasts posted week-to-week losses. World News Tonight was -5% in total viewers and -4% in adults 25-54 to the prior week (Sept. 14, 2020), However, compared to the year-ago week (Sept. 23, 2019), WNT was +7% in total viewers and +9% in adults 25-54.


The ABC newscast is having its most-watched season in 17 years and averaging its largest adults 25-54 audience in five years—since the 2003-04 and the 2015-16 seasons, respectively.

NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt averaged 7.3 million total viewers and 1.6 million adults 25-54 during the week of Sept. 21. Nightly News was the fourth-most-watched show on all of U.S. television for the week, and No. 10 among adults 25-54 (excluding sports and syndication).

NBC’s flagship newscast was -3% in total viewers and -4% in the demo vs. the prior week. Versus the year-ago week (Sept. 23 2019), Nightly was +1% in total viewers but lost a fair number of adults 25-54 (-7%).

Ratings for NBC and ABC’s evening newscasts are rated based on a 4-day average. For NBC, Nightly News was retitled Friday due to NHL Finals coverage. The Friday broadcast is not included in the weekly average For ABC, World News Tonight was retitled Monday due to NFL coverage. The Monday broadcast is not included in the weekly average.

For the week of Sept. 21, first-run broadcasts of the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 5.1 million total viewers and 906,000 adults 25-54 viewers.

Comparing apples to apples (first-run broadcasts), CBS Evening News, which was the network’s most-watched show on 4 of 5 nights, was -9% in total viewers and -8% in the key A25-54 demo vs. the previous week. Compared to the year-ago week, Evening News was +2% in total viewers, +3% among adults 25-54.

CBS’ ratings are based on all 5 weeknights.

Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings at various times during the day, and in a variety of markets, large and small. They reflect the addition of Out of Home (OOH) viewership that began being measured on Aug. 31 across only 44 markets tracked by Nielsen.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Sept. 21:

• Total Viewers: 8,501,000 7,326,000 5,146,000
• A25-54: 1,662,000 1,477,000 930,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 9/21/20), Previous Week (w/o 9/14/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 9/23/19). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Averages based on regular telecasts.