Net's Brokaw newscast expands ratings lead

NEW YORK — By holding steady, NBC News’ evening newscast finished the just-concluded TV season with the best ratings advantage over ABC News since Nielsen began using People Meters in 1987.

NBC’s “Nightly News With Tom Brokaw” grew its lead over ABC’s “World News Tonight With Peter Jennings” from 4% to 7% during the 52-week 2002-2003 TV sesh, which ended Sunday.

“Nightly” also won the third quarter of 2003, as well as last week, the height of Hurricane Isabel.

“It is a combination of things,” “Nightly” exec producer Steve Capus said.

“Tom Brokaw has had a remarkable run going back to Sept. 11, 2001, and it has just continued over the past year. Then couple that with a very identifiable news division,” Capus said.

“Nightly” averaged 10.25 million total viewers; ABC, 9.58 million viewers. CBS’ “Evening News With Dan Rather” averaged 8.01 million viewers, 28% less than “Nightly.”

Compared to the 2001-2002 TV season, NBC didn’t increase its total aud over the past year. Rather, viewership remained flat.

At ABC’s “World,” viewership fell off 2%; and at CBS’ “Evening News,” a sobering 7%.

NBC also boasted its best total-viewer delivery in five seasons.

In the key news demo of adults 25-54, “Nightly” also finished the season on top of its competish.

There was a glimmer of good news for “World” during the third quarter, as the ABC newscast’s 2.5 rating in adults 25-54 was just a tick behind NBC’s 2.6.

Viewership was up at all three news nets last week, as the hurricane hit land in North Carolina and churned up the Northeast. NBC led the way with 10.12 million viewers, followed by 9.35 for ABC and 8.24 for CBS.

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