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Good News for ‘Nightline’

Dec 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Writers strike-induced late-night repeats, an abundance of big news and a rich, fresh lineup of stories each weeknight are adding up to a perfect storm for “Nightline.”
The ABC News program, which reinvented itself—after founding anchor Ted Koppel retired—with a handful of anchors and a more magazine-style format, has been steadily attracting new viewers for some time.
This season “Nightline” is posting double-digit year-to-year ratings and demographic increases that added up to its best November sweeps in three years. The show finished first in its late-night timeslot the week of Dec. 3 against “Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” whose ratings were shriveled by repeat-itis.
Don’t assume that “Nightline” executive producer James Goldston is thanking the striking Writers Guild of America for his good ratings fortune, however. “That’s the last thing I’d want to say,” he declared. “We might be kind of a beneficiary of it, but this strike’s no good for anybody. The sooner they get this thing sorted out the better, for everyone’s sake.”
Meanwhile, according to data from Nielsen Media Research for the week of Dec. 3, “Nightline” averaged 3.9 million viewers, nearly 2 million of them in the key 25- to 54-year-old news demo, up 16% and 23%, respectively, vs. the comparable week in 2006. “Tonight” averaged 3.4 million total viewers and “Late Show” 3.1 million total viewers the same week. (Neither of the comedy shows chases the 25 to 54 demo.)
“Nightline” finished the sweeps with an average of 3.8 million viewers, 1.85 million of them 25 to 54. Those are year-to-year increases of 7% and 4%, respectively. Meanwhile, the talk shows notched double-digit decreases year-to-year, with “Tonight” averaging 4.0 total million viewers and “Late Show” 3.7 million for strike-battered November.
Mr. Goldston said he thinks “Nightline” is clearly getting some sampling as a result of the writers strike, but he said he is not trying to cater to viewers used to getting timely celebrities and entertainment from Letterman and Leno.
“We’re never going to be a show that competes head-on with Letterman and Leno,” Mr. Goldston said. “We win by being unique.”

12 Comments

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