NEW YORK — The intensely competitive evening news wars delivered an upset last week, with ABC News anchor Peter Jennings beating usual leader Tom Brokaw of NBC News.
For the first time since Sept. 2001, “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” pulled ahead of NBC’s “Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” in both the demo and in total viewership.
According to Nielsen Media Research, “World News” drew a 2.5 rating in adults 25-54 and averaged 8.94 million viewers. “Nightly” posted a 2.2 rating and averaged 8.74 million viewers.
For much of last week, Jennings was on the road.
On May 3, Jennings anchored the broadcast from Denver, where he visited the nearby top-secret military complex NORAD. On May 4, he anchored from Houston, sitting down for an interview with Halliburton CEO David Lesar. Jennings also anchored from Miami, where he looked at how the U.S. protects major ports.
NBC news execs explained the victory by saying that Oprah Winfrey’s late afternoon talker on ABC enjoyed a ratings surge last week.
At ABC, news execs have long said that this Oprah argument doesn’t hold water, and that a win is a win.
“Nightly” has placed first for 60 of the last 63 weeks in total viewers.