Eye’s news ratings flag

Vote of confidence for NBC

Election week was very good to NBC’s front-running “Nightly News,” while CBS’ third-place “Evening News” sagged.

For the first time since Katie Couric assumed the “Evening News” anchor’s chair in early September, the Eye newscast came in below its audience level of the same week a year ago.

According to Nielsen estimates for Nov. 6-10, the Brian Williams-fronted “Nightly News” set the pace among the early-evening news programs with a 2.5 rating/9 share among adults 25-54 and 9.8 million viewers overall. ABC’s “World News” ran second (2.3/9 in 25-54, 8.82m) and CBS’ “Evening News” came in third (2.0/7, 7.76m).

Though the Eye newscast has resided in third place for more than a month now, the net had been able to point to year-to-year gains. But, at least for one week, that is no longer the case as “Evening News” came in 4% below last year’s audience (8.07 million) when Bob Schieffer was in the anchor chair.

NBC also was down slightly while ABC, with Charles Gibson now front and center, was on the rise.

The NBC newscast won each night to log its highest weekly average since February and its biggest lead over ABC this fall.

It’s probably not a coincidence that NBC’s gains in recent weeks are coinciding with declines at CBS, since a good chunk of the early-week sampling for Couric, a former NBC News fixture on “Today,” came at the expense of Williams and NBC.

On the cable news front in primetime, Fox News remained out in front over CNN, but its advantage in adults 25-54 during election week was trimmed to 5% (466,000 viewers to 444.000) one week after enjoying a big 70% advantage (397,000 to 233,000).

In overall total viewers, Fox News averaged 1.54 million in primetime (down 13% vs. the same week a year ago) while rivals CNN (1.22 million, up 59%) and MSNBC (712,000, up 76%) both were sharply on the rise.

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