By Ted Johnson
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir again finished the season on top in total viewers and the key demographic, but all the network evening newscasts saw their viewership drop in 2020-21 versus a year earlier.
The newscast averaged 8.74 million total viewers, down 7% from 9.39 million a season earlier. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 7.32 million, down 11% from 8.27 million; and CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell posted 5.4 million, down 8% from 5.86 million.
In the 25-54 demographic, World News Tonight averaged 1.69 million, off by 10% compared to 1.88 million a season earlier. NBC Nightly News averaged 1.41 million, down 21% from 1.78 million. CBS Evening News averaged 984,000, down 11% from 1.10 million.
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In the 18-49 demo, World News Tonight averaged 1.17 million, off 8% from 1.27 million in the previous season. NBC averaged 982,000, down 20% from 1.23 million, and CBS posted 701,000, down 10% from 780,000.
News executives have largely attributed the erosion to the end of a momentous election year and to the spectacle of Donald Trump’s administration. The evening newscasts in particular saw a viewership spike in the initial months following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, 2020. Although that has waned since then, ABC News noted that World News Tonight still ranked as the top program in total viewers in all of broadcast and cable TV for 20 of the 52 weeks this season (excluding sports and syndication), while NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News also have been among the top shows on their networks at various points throughout the year.
The figures are from Nielsen and were released by ABC News. They are Live+same day.
In the third quarter of year, World News Tonight averaged 7.9 million total viewers, compared to NBC Nightly News with 6.62 million and CBS Evening News with 4.85 million. In the 25-54 demo, ABC posted 1.48 million, compared to NBC with 1.23 million and CBS with 879,000.
World News Tonight has won total viewers for the past five seasons and all the key demos for the last two. Its rivals also highlighted their own feats: NBC said that Nightly News was the fourth most watched show among total viewers in the third quarter, excluding sports, syndication and specials. CBS said that it closed the gap in the 25-54 demo by 26% with NBC and by 10% with ABC.
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