‘NBC Nightly News’ Suffers Lowest-Rated Year Ever

But Lester Holt-anchored newscast still beats David Muir in key demo

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt - Season 2018
Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC

“NBC Nightly News” declined in ratings during the 2017-18 TV season, suffering its lowest-rated September-to-September year ever. The Lester Holt-led program still beat David Muir’s in the key adults 25-54 demographic, marking the 22nd straight season NBC has held that advantage over ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

“World News Tonight” won the year in total viewers, marking the program’s second consecutive win in overall eyeballs. This one was the newscast’s largest margin of victory over “Nightly News” to-date, according to Nielsen.

The ABC newscast rose 4 percent overall from last year, averaging 8.637 million total viewers per night, its best haul in 13 years. NBC’s version slipped to 8.153 million total viewers per night, its smallest average audience dating back to when Nielsen electronic data began in 1991. The decline is more in line with general trend of television ratings these days.

That eyeball-gap is the largest advantage in ABC’s favor over NBC since the 1995-96 season.

Furthermore, “NBC Nightly News” finished down 5 percent in the demo compared to its stats last year in that metric (1.851 million for 2017-18 vs. 1.949 million in 2016-2017), whereas “World News” is just slightly up (1.773 million for 2017-18 vs. 1.760 million in 2016-2017).

But Holt’s program still came in well ahead of “CBS Evening News,” which lost to both “Nightly” and “World” in 2017-18, averaging 6.209 million total viewers and 1.287 million in the adults 25-54 range. Those numbers put “Evening News” behind ABC by the largest margins in at least 26 years.