ABC’s ‘World News’ Closing In on NBC

Dec 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Only a one-night viewership spike for its one-sponsor edition Dec. 4 appears to have saved “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” from being overtaken by ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson” in total viewers and the 25- to 54-year-old viewers who are most prized by advertisers in news programming.

“We’re very pleased with the trend,” “World News” executive producer Jon Banner said Tuesday after the ratings were released. “You work harder when you think you’re getting closer.”

Mr. Banner said the sampling of the three flagship newscasts has been going down since the debut of Katie Couric as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Sept. 5. Even though the pattern that is settling in seems to be going in Charles Gibson’s favor, Mr. Banner said, “We know it’s a long process and we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

For the week, “Nightly News” finished with its slimmest lead, 120,000 viewers, in five months over “World News,” according to data from Nielsen Media Research, which put the race at 9.12 million viewers for “Nightly” and 9 million for “World News.” In the 25 to 54 demo, the race was a near tie, with ABC slipping ahead by 20,000 viewers, averaging 2.92 million for the week, to NBC’s 2.90 million viewers.

The ABC newscast outperformed the NBC flagship program every night except Monday, the night of Philips Electronics North America’s much written about minimalist commercial buy. That evening, “Nightly” attracted 10.38 million viewers, some 15 percent more than ABC and 30 percent more than “CBS Evening News.”

On Dec. 6, when all three evening newscasts originated from Washington to cover the release of the Iraq Study Group report, “World News” finished first by 190,000 total viewers and 180,000 25 to 54 viewers.

“Evening News” had its lowest week since the exit of Bob Schieffer, who had gained viewers while keeping the seat warm for Ms. Couric, at the end of the summer. For the week of Dec. 4, CBS averaged 7.45 million total viewers, with 2.26 million in the demo. That’s a year-to-year drop of 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“Nightly” posted a bigger decrease compared with a year ago, down 13 percent in total viewers and 18 percent in the demo.

“World News” was down 4 percent in total viewers and 11 percent in the demo.