In his first week as the official anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Lester Holt attracted more viewers — and more of the viewers that advertisers crave — than ABC’s “World News Tonight,” a signal that the ongoing push and pull between the two newscasts, and the networks behind them, is likely to continue.
“NBC Nightly News,” which now uses Holt’s name in its title, drew an average of 1,970,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 for the five days ended June 26, according to Nielsen, compared with 1,933,000 for ABC’s “World News Tonight” with David Muir and 1,473,000 for CBS’ “CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley. Advertisers place more emphasis on this age group when negotiating prices for their support of news programming.
“Nightly News” attracted an average of 8,048,000 viewers during the same time period, according to Nielsen. In comparison, “World News” lured an average of 7,722,000 and “Evening News” an average of 6,608,000.
NBC’s win comes after the network launched a new promotional campaign to draw attention to the anchor, who in recent moths had been a substitute for Brian Williams. Williams was suspended for six months earlier this year after disclosing he embellished some accounts of his reporting, and NBC recently concluded an investigation into his behavior. NBCUniversal earlier this month said Williams would move to MSNBC in a new reporting position in August.
Holt’s victory by no means indicates future wins. The NBC and ABC newscasts have been locked in a see-saw battle for first place, though ABC has edged NBC in the demographic most desired by advertisers season to date.
ABC has also shown strength in recent weeks. “World News Tonight” lured more viewers and more people between 25 and 54 and between 18 and 49 than “Nightly News” in the second quarter of 2015 — the first time “World News” has done so in any of the measures in eight years.