In just a few short weeks as the now-official anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News,” Lester Holt has moved the newscast in an important benchmark: The NBC newscast has taken back the lead in the audience most coveted by advertisers from ABC’s “World News Tonight.”
To be sure, the gain is slim. Season to date as of July 10, NBC’s “Nightly” has won an average of 2.086 million viewers between 25 and 54, the crowd most desired by sponsors of news programming. That figure is just 5,000 more than the average won season to date by “World News.”
The distinction is an important one. Should NBC be able to build on that difference, it would lend the newscast more leverage with advertisers. NBC and ABC were tied in the advertiser audience for the season as of the prior week, according to Nielsen, and ABC had gained an edge over NBC in recent weeks. Season to date, ABC’s “World News Tonight” is averaging 494,000 more viewers, compared to the same time frame last season, while “NBC Nightly News” has averaged 263,000 fewer. Only ABC has grown its viewership in the advertiser demo season to date.
Holt, who had been anchoring “Nightly News” while NBCUniversal investigated the behavior of Brian Williams in the wake of disclosures he falsified accounts of previous reporting, was named the official anchor of “Nightly” in June, and his first broadcast with his name attached to the show came on June 22.
Since his debut in that post, “Nightly” has bested ABC’s “World News” in total viewers, viewers between 25 and 54 and viewers 18-49.
In the most recent five-day period, “Nightly” won an average viewership of 8,136,000 million, compared with 7,497,000 for ABC and 6,683,000 for CBS’ “CBS Evening News.” The NBC newscast secured an average of 1,959,000 viewers between 25 and 54, compared with 1,781,000 for ABC and 1,508,000 for CBS.