Anchor changes at ABC's two biggest newscasts did nothing during their first week to shake NBC's dominance in the ratings.
NBC's "Nightly News" with Brian Williams averaged 9.37 million viewers on the first week that Diane Sawyer anchored ABC's "World News." The ABC broadcast averaged 8.56 million viewers. Sawyer had just under 9 million viewers for her first newscast, while Williams had 9.7 million viewers that day, the Nielsen Co. said.
NBC's "Today" show also won easily during the first week for ABC's new "Good Morning America" team of George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts.
Sawyer moved from "Good Morning America" to "World News" to replace the retired Charles Gibson. Stephanopoulos moved up from Washington to take her morning job.
"World News" averaged 500,000 more viewers last week than it has for a typical week this television season, while "Nightly News" was up 440,000 (news viewership tends to increase during cold weather months). Compared to the same week last year, ABC is down slightly and NBC is up, Nielsen said.
"This is exactly where we expected to be and where we wanted to be," said Jeffrey Schneider, ABC News spokesman. "Both shows got bumps and put us on the right path."
Katie Couric got a much more dramatic increase during her first week on "CBS Evening News," briefly lifting the show from third place to first. But that success, attributable largely to a publicity push that brought in curious viewers, did not last. ABC downplayed Sawyer's first week to avoid outsized expectations.
Last week, Couric's CBS newscast averaged 6.2 million viewers, Nielsen said. During Sawyer's debut week, ABC had its biggest lead over CBS in more than a year.
"Today," which hasn't lost a week in the ratings in more than a decade, averaged just under 6 million viewers, during Stephanopoulos' first week, while "Good Morning America" had 4.6 million, Nielsen said. It was the most-watched week for "Today" since March. Both broadcasts were up 8 percent from their season average.
It was a different story in prime-time, where CBS dominated a holiday week stuffed primarily with reruns and seasonal specials. NBC's telecast of Sunday night's NFL game between Dallas and Washington was the week's most watched program.
CBS averaged 9.1 million viewers in prime-time (5.7 rating, 10 share). NBC had 6.4 million viewers (3.9, 7), and narrowly won the week in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic prized by advertisers. ABC had 4.5 million (2.7, 5), Fox had 3.7 million (2.3, 4), ION Television had 1.1 million (0.7, 1) and the CW had 820,000 (0.6, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3 million viewers (1.5 rating, 3 share), TeleFutura had 980,000 (0.4, 1), Telemundo had 960,000 (0.5, 1) and Azteca had 130,000 (0.1, 0).
A ratings point represents 1,149,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Dec. 21-27, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Sunday Night Football: Dallas vs. Washington, NBC, 19.04 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 15.74 million; "NCIS," CBS, 15.39 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 14.39 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 12.45 million; Movie: "Jesse Stone: Thin Ice," CBS, 11.34 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 10.78 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 10.29 million; "CSI: NY," CBS, 10.27 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 10 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.
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(This version CORRECTS last week's averages in version that moved Tuesday.)