Brian Williams Comeback Begins? NBC Touts ‘Nightly News’ Ratings Milestone

Brian Williams Nightly News Replacement

Brian Williams may be on a scandal-driven break from the newscast, but NBC is still touting the show’s ratings performance and edge over the competition.

NBC News on Tuesday noted that “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” delivered an average 10.17 million viewers last week. According to NBC, that makes “Nightly” the only network newscast to top the 10 million weekly average threshold in eight years. “Nightly” has topped the eight-figure mark three times to date this season, according to NBC News.

NBC News’ chief anchor has been sidelined by the controversy that erupted last week when he admitted to exaggerating claims of facing enemy fire in a helicopter while covering the Iraq war in 2003. Williams’ account was challenged by veterans groups, which led him to deliver an on-air apology on the Feb. 4 edition of “Nightly News.”

NBC News is now investigating the circumstances surrounding Williams’ various accounts of the 2003 incident and how they changed over time. On Saturday, Williams said he was taking a “break” from his weeknight duties on the Peacock’s flagship newscast, on which he also serves as managing editor. NBC News vet Lester Holt has been subbing for Williams.

NBC News PR noted that “Nightly News” had a commanding lead for the week in total viewers over ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” (9.46 million) and “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” (7.8 million). In the target adults 25-54 demographic however, the race with ABC tightens with NBC nosing past ABC by a 189,000 viewer margin and by 720,000 over CBS.

On Friday’s telecast, however, after 48 hours of headlines about Williams’ misleading statements, ABC’s newscast pulled ahead of NBC’s in viewers (8.5 million to NBC’s 8.1 million) and by three-tenths of a rating point in adults 25-54 (2.0 vs. 1.7).

NBC’s decision to spin the “Nightly” numbers may be an effort to counteract the scrutiny of the show’s ratings decline since the Williams’ headlines hit. ABC no doubt is hoping to capitalize on Williams’ misfortune to close the razor-thin gap in the adults 25-54 demographic for the season to date, which stands at 38,000 viewers as of last week.

In total viewers, NBC is averaging 9.3 million for the season to date, comfortably ahead of ABC (by 597,000 viewers) and CBS (by 2 million viewers).

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  1. Marie Marino says:

    I saw Brain on MSNBC yesterday. It was great seeing him again, however, I want him back reporting the news nightly.

  2. Tom Hendrick says:

    Bring Brian back

  3. Patricia Gray says:

    Bring Brian Back….who had the power to take Brian off the Nbc News? Let America know what is going on? Our Pres. Lies everyday it seems and no one does a thing about it???

  4. T and G Daun says:

    We call NBC news “The Brian Show”. You are truly missed in our home Brian. This whole situation is completely out of control as far as we are concerned. Bring Brian Back!!!

  5. Americans are decent people, but schadenfreude can sometimes play an unfortunate part in our society. I think may be the case with the Brian Williams saga. Give him the support and encouragement he needs and deserves.

  6. Kaye Bass says:

    I support Brian Williams. What has happened in our culture that we kick someone to the curb for making mistakes and destroy a long career? He is a great anchor and I’m sure deeply regrets what has come to light. He deserves to be forgiven and prove himself again!! Meanwhile, FOX News is allowed to say anything and report anything and get away with it. CNN is often wrong in their rush to be first and no one kicks them out! Please NBC, be reasonable and stop worrying about losing a market share. People will continue to watch him because he is excellent. We are a society that makes many mistakes…mine are just not out for the world to criticize. I support Brian Williams.

  7. Pat Beadel says:

    I’ve always trusted Brian Williams but I’ve got a lot of respect and trust in Lester Holt also. I’ve felt that when Williams retired the job should go to Lester. It’s your turn Lester whether it was the way you wanted it or not. Go Lester, we love you!!

    • Some may be surprised to know that he has supporters from his home town and still love him.Some viewers will no longer watch NBC because of him being suspended with no pay and thought that was too harsh.My father served in the Army twice.My cousin served in Iraq.My husband served in Korea(We Jon Bu from1968-1969). The first helicopter 6th aviation unit to go to Korea.They were called the black berets.

      The other day,i accidentally told a friend of mine that my husband served in the Korean war! He did not.It was way before his time.I did not lie nor had i fibbed.I just “misremembered”.My friend believed me.Lol.

      I can allow myself some slack to “slip up” now and than as I’m from the baby boomer generation.We hold no resentment towards Brian.We have watched him for a long time.We want him back.Thank you.

  8. Evan says:

    Over the past decade or more, TV news has become tabloid. Williams became a popular news figure & perhaps all the attention went to his head. If so, not very surprising. However, NBC has some ‘splaining to do. Their shameful treatment of the very competent Ann Curry showed us who & what NBC is made of. Wherever Williams goes, as a loyal viewer I will follow. His recounting of the helicopter story has been told many times. Now, more than 10 yrs later, he’s being taken to task? Please. He is the only news guy that I actually enjoy listening to.

  9. Ron Swygert says:

    There are two News anchors I trust. Brian is #1.
    Lestor #2. I watch ALL their programs.
    It will be a long 6 months, not hearing a friend.

  10. Marianne C. says:

    Each of us will lean toward our true colors in this whole matter – liberal or conservative. Everyone – and I mean everyone makes mistakes. I still trust Brian Williams because he is human and at least can ‘fess’ up as a story that is retold many, many times gets off track. Every person I know changes a story that gets retold over and over. Our family even compared it to a trip we took – and an event that happened – with all four of us remembering it differently! Brian’s story telling – compared to the whole set of lies for bringing us over to IRAQ to start this mess are not even on the same planet – yet who was fired over that? NBC – Bring Brian back. But if you won’t – then Brian needs to consider this the best thing that ever happened…..and then find a way to make that statement true. Things like this show you not only who YOU are – but who your friends and family are as people.

  11. TRJ says:

    Effective immediately, I am suspending NBC news broadcasts in all of its formats and time slots from my viewing choices during the next six months and concurrent with Brian Williams suspension. Although I don’t support Mr Williams for his lapses and mistakes, I totally disagree with NBC News executive decision and action in this matter. It would have been better for Mr. Williams to continue his work at NBC, and be given the chance to further correct his errors in judgement, in part by expanding his role as co-chair and co-host of a deliberate, transparent, and televised study of renewed ethical conduct standards and greater truth in broadcasting. We need such new and concerted efforts at greater transparency and accountability far more than we need the musical chairs of personalities and their related ratings debates. I will also be closely watching the conduct of Jimmy Fallon, and other on-air friends and collaborators of Williams, and will support or drop them from my viewing selection in equal measure to their support or denial of Williams.

  12. Roger Gale says:

    Yes, Please put Brian Williams back where he belongs. NBC you suck for not supporting your greatest!

  13. Sandie Byrne says:

    Put Brian Williams back on the Nightly News!

  14. Lauri says:

    Sure hope Lester Holt gets a nice raise out of this deal… I have always liked Brian Williams, but as a retired service member and the spouse of a combat vet, I am very disappointed that he lied about his experiences…you don’t forget if you were on an aircraft that was hit by rpg…Brian, I thought you were plenty cool without exaggerating or lying…you didn’t need anything to make you cooler, epic fail.

    • Evan says:

      I know that this flies in the face of what we’ve all been taught: that the news is a serious business. Walter Cronkite is dead & the news is mostly an entertainment business. I agree with another poster who said that with all of us, stories re-told repeatedly change with the telling. Williams achieved the stature he’s enjoyed because he’s not only smart, he’s clever as well. It will be a very long 6 mo if NBC stands him in the corner that long. But since viewer numbers & big bucks are all NBC cares about, I’m predicting that his time in the corner will be cut short.

  15. Joan says:

    12 years ago… Who cares now… It’s over & done.. Let’s move on. He’s a good man.. Let’s be grown up & bring him back to his news show.

  16. Berj Tahjian says:

    We support Brian Williams 100%. This incident shows that he also is “human” and subject to the effects and the impact of war time experiences and first hand exposure. The realization , the acceptance and the humility of his judgments will make him a far better human being and a superior newscaster. Brian Williams deserves a second chance. My wife and I love the Nightly News and it will never be the same without him.

  17. Brian Williams is a dedicated and left to his own devices, a truly honest man. I believe that his “deception” was engineered by the “higher ups” of the network. Everyone should realize that a story is only as good as the promotions encourage it to be. I believe that he is to be commended for his honesty and willingness to take the bullet for the “company”.

    I, for one, and I have a lot of friends who will no longer (all due respect to Lester Holt), wtch NBC Nightly News if Brian Williams does not return to the anchor desk.


    Nancy Blois-Marshall

  18. canhisass says:

    NBC Nightly Fairytales with Brian Williams. Can his ass

  19. James Bagnall says:

    I’m not certain that I understand all of the “blow up” over his memory lapse. I have trouble remembering anything that I say in a conversation last week, much less something that happened ten years ago. It happens.

    There is also something I’ve heard called “memory transference” in which someone else’s memory of an event becomes yours over time. The “rememberer” actually considers a memory that was told to him/her to be his own memory of an event over time. My point is that I don’t see how holding Mr. Williams to a standard that is higher than one we hold ourselves to, to be doing anyone justice.

    In my opinion, it’s so much easier to point the finger at the error and laugh then to realize that we all do the same thing. I watch the Nightly News because of the humanity that Mr. Williams brings to the story, he doesn’t merely recount it, he helps us to understand it a little bit better. His warmth, charm, and humor come through the TV. In an otherwise mostly sterile newscape, I enjoy and appreciate the way Mr. Williams delivers the news that can be seen as often so depressing.

    I don’t even propose to give him a second chance as I don’t see that he needs one. Instead, I propose that we see him as a human who “misremembered” an event and move on.

    • Amy Wilson says:

      I’m with you, James. And I want him back. Now. Or I just walk away from news, period, because the rest of it is either sterile or overly dramatic.

      • Bernie Finamore says:

        Ditto…… my husband and I love to watch Brian. We no longer watch NBC and don’t intend to until he returns. This whole thing seem to be completely foolish and childish. NBC you are attempting to blemish a wonderful mans reputation. BRING HIM BACK!!!

  20. Patricia Ford says:

    Alot of my friends and I would like to see Brian get a second chance.Guthrie is no match.

  21. apple don't fall far from the tree says:

    Next Brian will “misremember” having his arse licked in a Girls episode!

  22. fish tales at NBC says:

    Is Brian Williams out in the stairwell on a mattress a la Katrina while he awaits his fate? I sure hope a gang with a dead body doesn’t get him while he waits……or one of those pesky RPG’s!

  23. Edward Cooper says:

    Does anyone believe the rating system? Who are these viewers? How many are there? Where do they live? What political affiliation are they. What is the sex breakdown? In short, the Networks do not disclose much information about the rating system. There is a reason for this. It’s called manipulation of data. Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News has become a mouthpiece for the Democrats and Obama. They are no longer relevant. NBC should prove with full disclosure why they beleive they are still relevant.

  24. Does it faze NBC that people are turning in because Brian Wiliams isn’t on air?

  25. Roseanne says:

    Brian Williams of NBC is a liar just like Marcie Griffin of Dept. of ABC of California Cerritos office. They both are finish!

  26. Zenith says:

    People tuned in simply to watch the train wreck. This guy is an arrogant puffed shirt. He fits the appropriate visuals for what these networks want to shove down our throats, so it doesn’t matter to them if he is not competent. Sad

    • What person on planet earth had not misremembered or even lied about something?To the cops while in trouble or to their spouse or their employers,or to possibly to their neighbor or to the IRS?Or exaggerated their accomplishments to some extent or just wanted to impress someone? It total Hypocrisy:Hypocrisy is the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not actually hold. It is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.

  27. I like Brian Williams very much and I feel very badly that he is being eaten by his own peers. Every channel has aired negative commentary on Mr. Williams!!! He is finding out who his true friends are, which apparently are few and far between, which should make him reassess his social circle.

    If Mr. Williams is not going to come back to the news anchor desk, Mr. Lester Holt should be given the position. He is competent and trustworthy and has certainly paid his dues. This is the key phrase, “he has paid his dues” and deserves the opportunity.

    If the NBC news department decides to replace Mr. Williams with anyone else but Mr. Holt, I will stop watching the show. Just like I did when they got rid of Ann Curry in such a hideous way after she earned her position to join Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

    This is not about race it is about fairness. Mr. Holt has earned this unexpected opportunity and if he does not get the anchor desk position, NBC will see their ratings dominance in the ratings plummet, just like the Today show’s ratings relegating them to second place after years of dominance in the morning.

    The public knows what is fair and what is unjust and the power that the public has is simply to switch the channel.

  28. J.Dynia says:

    Like ever newsman should be investigated a some point. No one like the one at the top, so take your best shot people.

  29. silly liberals says:

    I would be more shocked if a liberal told the truth.

  30. David says:

    This was just an embellishment, the real criminals are over at Fox News.

    • silly liberals says:

      you are so used to being lied to, but you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and smack you in the face. You just obey your masters.just another pathetic liberal.

  31. Jose Jimenez says:

    The “old communists” in the old Soviet Union had the same thinking in Pravda.

  32. sjmaus says:

    They’re stating numbers prior to their anchor being outed as an obamaesque liar. They need to consider what is going to happen in the future now that is lack of integrity has been recognized.

  33. LibsRLiars says:

    So if people are still wanting to tune into NBC to see Williams, this proves that they aren’t interested in the truth. They are only interested in hearing what makes them feel good (liberal lies).

  34. Ramses II says:

    That 8 million Americans want to listen to Williams telling tall tales shouldn’t surprise anyone. 35% of Americans read at below a 5th grade level. I’m surprised more don’t tune in.

  35. Kurt M says:

    Last weeks ratings is such a small snapshot and many people may have only watched to see what the network had to say about the liar. I am the example of someone that watched NBC news at night and have since switched to CBS news. I don’t believe half of MSM no matter the source so it really doesnt matter who is trying to sell me more lies.

  36. Donn Johnson says:

    Les should have been given the job in the first place when Tom Brokaw retired!!

  37. Nicholas P. Schiavone says:

    Why did no one check last Friday’s Nielsen Ratings? Variety reported yesterday that ABC handily beat NBC in the Evening News Race.
    And who should be surprised.
    Few can bear real moral tragedy!

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