NBC leads, but rivals close gap in premiere week

NBC remained on top in the evening news race as the fall season got under way, but ABC and CBS have closed the gap.

Nielsen data for the week of Sept. 24-28 showed “NBC Nightly News” averaging 7.39 million viewers to 7.32 million for “ABC World News” and 6.15 million for “CBS Evening News.” While the Brian Williams-hosted Peacock program dipped by 5%, the Diane Sawyer-fronted Alphabet telecast edged up by 2% and the Scott Pelley-led Eye program rose by 6%.

As a result, the NBC-ABC battle for No. 1 is closer than it has been in a while, and CBS pulled to within 1.3 million of first place after starting last season more than 2.1 million behind.

NBC still held an 11% advantage over ABC in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (2 million to 1.8 million), with both newscasts down 9% from last year. “CBS Evening News” grew 3% in the demo from last year (to 1.65 million) and is now within shouting distance.

Note that since the Nielsen universe (the number of available viewers in TV homes) has declined again this fall, modest declines would be expected for these shows — and any gains are especially impressive.

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