David Muir, Lester Holt In See-Saw Battle For Evening-News Viewers

The evening-news war between ABC and NBC continues unabated.

There’s no question that ABC’s “World News Tonight” has taken the evening-news lead from NBC’s “Nightly News,” which the latter dominated for years. But just when one might think ABC’s David Muir ought to do a victory dance, NBC’s Lester Holt gets back in the fight.

ABC continued to win the audience coveted by advertisers in the most recent five-day period measured by Nielsen, but NBC’s evening newscast was watched by more viewers overall, the first time that NBC has claimed those bragging rights since the week of March 23.

The Muir-anchored “World News Tonight” attracted an average of 1,856,000 viewers between 25 and 54, the demographic desired most by sponsors of news programming, during the five-day period lasting from April 27 to May 1, according to Nielsen. In comparison, an average of 1,726,000 watched NBC’s “Nightly News” and an average of 1,430,000 watched CBS’ “Evening News.” The win marks the seventh time in the last eight weeks ABC has won the category.

The ABC newscast won 130,000 more viewers in the category than its NBC rival, compared with a lead of 180,000 in the prior five-day period.

Any edge NBC has had over ABC in the so-called advertiser demo has become negligible, a signal that its newscast has weakened in recent months. Holt is anchoring in place of Brian Williams, who is in the midst of a six-month suspension after acknowledging he falsified an account of a 2003 NBC News reporting trip to Iraq. NBC News is investigating other instances in which Williams may have embellished the truth, and there are questions whether the once-celebrated newsman may return to the broadcast.

Season to date, “Nightly News” has averaged 2.153 million viewers between 25 and 54, just 5,000 more than ABC’s “World News,” and 9,072,000 million total viewers, 420,000 more than ABC.

Holt is proving to have some allure, however, demonstrated last week as he journeyed to Baltimore twice to anchor during recent unrest in that Maryland city. The NBC newscast wooed an average of 7,760,000 viewers overall, according to Nielsen, compared with an average of 7,687,000 who turned into ABC’s “World News” and an average of 6,576,000 who watched CBS’ “Evening News.” Muir also paid a visit to Baltimore last week.

NBC attracted 39,000 more viewers to its newscast than ABC. But “World News” had 122,000 more viewers overall than NBC in the previous five-day period.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix has drops the first trailer for “The Politician,” and “Killing Eve” adds two to its cast for season 3.  CASTING Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani, both alums of “The Crown,” are set to join the cast of “Killing Eve” for its third season. British writer Suzanne Heathcote, whose past credits include [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • Disneyland

    Disney Shares Slip Amid Reported Whistleblower Allegations of Inflated Revenue

    Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst for Disney’s revenue operations unit, says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that the entertainment conglomerate repeatedly and systematically overstated its revenue for years, according to a MarketWatch report, by as much as $6 billion in a single [...]

  • Bob Bakish Joe Ianniello

    ViacomCBS Sets Board Members; Bob Bakish, Joe Ianniello New Deals Disclosed

    ViacomCBS has unveiled the 13 members of its board of directors and details of new employment contracts for president-CEO Bob Bakish and CBS chairman-CEO Joe Ianniello. The disclosure came Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, six days after Viacom and CBS at long last set an all-stock merger agreement valued at [...]

  • Carrie Underwood, left, and Reba McEntire

    CMAs Make Hosting Change: Brad Paisley Exits, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire Are In

    The CMA Awards have had the most consistent hosting situation of any music awards show in television, but 11 years after installing Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood as the reliable faces of the telecast, even ABC and the Country Music Association have decided it’s time for a switch. Come Nov. 13, Underwood will return for [...]

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content