Our top story this morning: ABC News’ “20/20” has beaten NBC News’ “Dateline” in September to May ratings among adults 25-54 for the first time in four years.
ABC’s “20/20” also topped “Dateline” in total viewers for the first traditional broadcast television season in three years. The ABC News program averaged 4.9 million total viewers, counting a week’s worth of delayed viewing, vs. the NBC News show’s 4.7 million viewers. That’s a difference of 200,000 total viewers per episode, or +4% in favor of “20/20.”
The two newsmagazine shows tied for the Nielsen season among adults 18-49, though 25-54 is considered the key demographic for news programing. Among adults 25-54, “20/20’s” 1.3 average rating was 8% above “Dateline’s” 1.2.
The key was the combination of dramatic growth at “20/20” and heavy declines at “Dateline.” The ABC News program jumped +26% in total viewers and +29% in the advertiser-sought demographic, year over year. “Dateline” dropped -19% and -25%, respectively, from the comparable 2017-18 September.-May season.
It’s important to point out two things here: 1) “20/20,” a two-hour show, generally begins an hour earlier than “Dateline” these days, giving it a head start in a more-desirable time slot , and 2) More often than not, news programs focus on metrics from the full September to September season as opposed to Nielsen’s traditional September-May one.
Neither of those facts seem to deter “20/20” senior executive producer David Sloan.
“I’m grateful our viewers have embraced this re-imagined version of ’20/20’ that is an immersive, embedded experience with a production value and style that is more evocative of a premium documentary rather than a newsmagazine,” he told TheWrap.
Nielsen’s traditional TV season, which is still utilized for most broadcast entertainment-series comparisons, ran from Sept. 24, 2018 to May 23, 2019. It’s all a bit in the eye of the beholder, however, as NBC News’ sister company NBC Entertainment also prefers to go by the full 52-week season because it has the strongest summer programming.