ABC’s David Muir Fights Back in TV-News Battle With NBC’s Lester Holt

David Muir Lester Holt Ratings Battle
Courtesy of ABC/NBC

The fight for evening-news dominance between ABC’s “World News Tonight” and NBC’s “NBC Nightly News” isn’t over yet — even if the NBC newscast has made great strides since Lester Holt officially took its reins in late June.

The ABC newscast, anchored by David Muir, won more of the viewers desired by advertisers in news programming than NBC’s in the five days between July 20 and July 24, according to Nielsen. It is the first time in five weeks that the ABC program has trumped NBC in this ratings category. “Nightly News” remained the most-watched evening newscast on broadcast TV, a position it has enjoyed for five consecutive weeks.

The two networks have been enveloped in a push-and-pull fracas for months. ABC’s newscast under Muir has made significant strides against NBC’s. Muir took over the anchor desk from Diane Sawyer in September of last year. As NBC grappled with the fallout from a disclosure made by the previous “Nightly” anchor, Brian Williams, that he falsified some accounts of previous reporting trips, ABC gained even more ground: In April, ABC’s “World News Tonight” bested “NBC Nightly News” in total viewers for the first time in more than five years.  For a time, ABC took the season-to-date lead among viewers between 25 and 54, too.

“World News Tonight” averaged 1,896,000 viewers between 25 and 54, according to Nielsen, compared with 1,841,00 for “NBC Nightly News” and 1,344,000 for CBS’ “CBS Evening News.” The NBC newscast was seen by an average of 7,657,000 viewers during the five-day period, compared with 7,440,000 viewers for “World News Tonight” and 6,064,000 viewers for “CBS Evening News.” Charlie Rose filled in for Scott Pelley during last week’s broadcasts.

The skirmish is far from over. Season to date as of last week, “Nightly News” leads “World News Tonight” by just 6,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 and by 352,000 total viewers.

As this week’s ratings demonstrate, neither side’s position is guaranteed.


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  1. Sally says:

    Since the 9/11 anniversary when NBC (the “Today”) show aired an interview with the irrelevant and vile Kris Jenner, rather than covering the anniversary of that day, it has never been on in my house, and never will be.

  2. Sean kenedy says:

    The difference between David Muir and Lester Holt; is that Muir talks so fast, it’s hard for anyone to understand him!! His reporting technique sounds like sound bites of the news. Also the other reporters on with Muir also copy his technique As oppose to Dianne Sawyer’s friendly soft spoken reporting. Lester Holt also has the same approach as Sawyer as do the other reporters with Holt! Very understanding and personal!! Please Mr. Muir slow down, your a reporter, not an auctioneer!!!

  3. Teresa McKemie says:

    David Muir hands down ! No competition! Plus NBC is not allowed in my house for any reason.

  4. cujokay says:

    I like Lester Holt and think he is doing a good job. I don’t feel he’s stiff at all. To ME, he’s engaging and I really enjoy the way he pulls you into the story; makes you understand what’s really going on.

    I must also confess it’s nice hearing the news from a man that’s not doing it for self-promotion. I believe Mr. Holt and that’s why I’ll keep watching.

  5. P Manfred says:

    That Minnesota Dentist that shot the lion in Africa should loose his business and be tried for poaching.

  6. Ralph Peters says:

    David Muer has it all over Holt hands down. Holt is stiff and cold!!

    • Rachel Barry says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I first saw David many, many years ago and said to myself, “He is going to be famous one day!”

  7. John Strangi says:

    With Brian Williams gone…NBC no longer exists in my world.

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