ABC’s David Muir Takes Back Madison Avenue Audience From NBC’s Lester Holt

ABC struck back in its ongoing bid to woo evening-news viewers from NBC, making significant gains in luring the viewers Madison Avenue wants most to its “World News Tonight.”

The Disney-owned network said 2,053,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 watched “World News” and its anchor, David Muir, for the five days between April 20 and April 24, according to Nielsen data. In comparison, an average of 1,873,000 viewers watched NBC’s “Nightly News” with Lester Holt during the period, while an average of 1,528,000 watched CBS’ “CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley.

The results suggest the ABC newscast continues to gain momentum in the absence of Brian Williams, who has been suspended from “Nightly News” for six months after admitting he made false statements about being on a helicopter that took rocket-propelled grenade fire while on a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq. NBC News is investigating this and other claims made by Williams to determine whether he has made other fabrications. As a result, there is a debate within the NBCUniversal unit as to whether the anchor should return to his post, despite the fact that ABC is winning audiences in his absence.

NBC had long dominated the evening-news wars, but ABC in recent weeks has stolen the title. “World News Tonight” has been America’s most-watched evening newscast for four consecutive weeks, and has won the most viewers between 25 and 54 — the audience preferred by advertisers in news programming — for three of the last four weeks.

The margin of separation in that demographic widened this week, with ABC beating NBC by 180,000 viewers. In the prior five-day period, Holt won just 7,000 more viewers between 25 and 54 than Muir.

ABC’s audience in the category rose 14%, up from its average of 1,788,000 in the previous period. Meanwhile, the 25-to-54 audience for NBC’s “Nightly News” rose 4.34% from 1,795,000. CBS’ average in the demo rose just 0.032% from 1,523,000.

“World News Tonight” also won the most viewers during the period, according to Nielsen. An average of 8,219,000 tuned in to the newscast during the period, a rise of 4.15% over an average of 7,891,000 in the previous five-day period. NBC’s “Nightly” won an average of 8,097,000, a 4.65% increase over an average of 7,737,000. CBS won an average of 6,819,000, marking a hike of 0.57% over an average of 6,780,000 in the previous period.

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