NBC’s Lester Holt Leads Evening-News Race, Despite Slide In Demo

NBC’s “Nightly News” trumped both its rivals in nabbing eyeballs in the last week, according to the latest Nielsen data. The victory came even as the NBC newscast lost some of the most important viewers – the kind advertisers covet.

Anchored by Lester Holt, NBC’s “Nightly News” snared 2.391 million viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most desired by advertisers in news programming, for the five days between March 2 and March 6. That figure represents a 2.9% dip in viewers in that category from the previous five-day period.  Meantime, ABC’s “World News” attracted 2.30 million in the demo, approximately 2.95% less than the previous period, while CBS’ “Evening News” captured 1.78 million, representing nearly a 9.2% fall from the previous period’s figures.

Holt’s newscast is under scrutiny because of what it lacks: Brian Williams, the longtime NBC evening-news stalwart who is in the midst of a six-month suspension owing to his falsification of an account of  a reporting trip he made to Iraq in 2003. In the wake of that disclosure, NBCUniversal has set a new senior executive, Andrew Lack, over NBC News and MSNBC, prompting speculation that Lack, a former NBC News chief who has old ties to Williams, might seek to bring him back to the fold earlier than expected.  The findings of an internal investigation into Williams’ behavior as well as Holt’s ability to maintain a lead are two factors NBCU is likely to consider.

Under Holt, “Nightly News” has continued to lead the broadcast networks in terms of overall viewers. In the most recent five-day period, “Nightly News” attracted an average of about 9.74 million, rising just 0.7% over the previous week. ABC’s “World News” lured an average of about 9.25 million, down about 2.28% from the previous period. CBS’ “Evening News” secured an average of 7.65 million, down about 4.73%.

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