Barbara Walters was a sizable ratings attraction for ABC on Friday, as the news legend’s retirement from daily television duties drove “The View” to one of its largest audiences ever and a primetime special on her career dominated its time period.
According to Nielsen, Walters signed off from “The View” before an average audience of 5.2 million, making it the 17-year program’s fourth largest audience ever. The show’s biggest crowd ever was the 6.63 million who tuned in for President Obama’s first appearance on the show in July 2010.
It also did well in key demos, with Friday’s hour hitting 18-month highs in both women 18-49 (818,000, 1.3 rating) and women 25-54 (1.0 million, 1.6 rating).
Walters’ exit from “The View” on Friday capped a weeklong celebration. Thursday’s telecast, which drew 4.2 million viewers, featured all 11 co-hosts of the show over the years: Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Debbie Matenopoulos, Lisa Ling, Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck joined current co-hosts Sherri Shepherd, Jenny McCarthy and Whoopi Goldberg on stage to share their favorite memories of Walters.
And in primetime on Friday, the two-hour special “Barbara Walters: Her Story” averaged a 1.6 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 9.46 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen national estimates. It won its time period in demos and drew ABC’s largest audience on a Friday between 9 and 11 p.m. in nearly two years (since June 2012).
The special included classic clips and memorable moments from throughout her career, some of which has not been seen in decades, including from “The Today Show,” “20/20,” The Barbara Walters Specials, “The 10 Most Fascinating People” and “The View.”