David Muir’s ABC ‘World News Tonight’ Debut Tops, But Day 2 Falls Back to Earth

Network insider tells TheWrap: “No one’s attaching any importance to either night at ABC. There’s a very long road ahead.”

David Muir

David Muir officially took over Diane Sawyer’s seat at the ABC evening news desk on Labor Day, and handed the network a holiday ratings victory. However, by day two, that was no longer the case.

While Muir’s viewers increased on Tuesday night for his second day on the job, the ratings lagged behind his key competitor, “NBC Nightly News,” which saw a greater increase following the holiday weekend.

Still, the network isn’t celebrating the win or panicking about falling back behind NBC and is instead looking towards the future. “No one’s attaching any importance to either night at ABC. There’s a very long road ahead,” an ABC insider told TheWrap.

Also read: Fall TV Ratings Preview: Can NBC Stay on Top, or Will CBS Regain the Throne?

On Monday for Muir’s debut, “ABC World News Tonight” pulled in 7.42 million total viewers, 1.797 million in the key 25-54 demo, topping the competition by both metrics.

“NBC Nightly News” received 6.34 million total viewers, 1.419 million in the demo. “CBS Evening News” was third with 4.841 million total viewers, 1.157 million in the demo.

To be fair, both NBC and CBS were retitled on Monday due to the Labor Day holiday, so that night is not included in season averages. ABC chose to be rated, but technically neither of the other nets’ numbers count. NBC was also impacted by sports in several markets.

Also read: Ratings: Diane Sawyer Ties for Demo Win in Last Full Week at ‘World News’

On Tuesday, “World News” pulled in higher numbers than the previous night — 7.868 million total viewers, 1.894 million in the demo — but took its typical spot in second place as the others rebounded to normal numbers.

“Nightly News” topped the competition Tuesday with 8.682 million and 2.062 million in the demo, per Nielsen fast program numbers. “Evening News” was third with 6.726 million, 1.797 million in the demo.

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“Nightly” is the usual champion of the night and the NBC news show has also been the frontrunner in the key demo for years. The Brian Williams show has won in total viewers for 259 consecutive weeks, and in 306 of the past 307 weeks.

However, ABC has  been strong this summer, winning the past four weeks in a row, eight of the past nine, and 14 of the past 21.