NBC keeps its lead in news, just barely

AP News
Posted: Mar 17, 2015 2:49 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Behind substitute anchor Lester Holt, NBC's "Nightly News" won its 286th consecutive week in the ratings — but only by the barest of margins.

The Nielsen company said NBC's news program averaged 8.13 million viewers last week, a mere 11,000 viewers more than ABC's "World News Tonight." The "CBS Evening News" had 6.9 million viewers. ABC won among the 25-to-54-year-old demographic that advertisers consider most valuable.

In an annual oddity, evening news ratings sank like a stone the week after clocks leaped forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time. With it now still light out when the news airs in most of the country, the three broadcasts collectively lost three and a half million viewers from the previous week, when darkness reigned.

As is often the case, "Nightly News" is hit harder by this phenomenon than its closest rival. Over the past decade, NBC and CBS lost an average of 11.8 percent of its viewership on the first week of Daylight Savings Time, while ABC lost 7.3 percent. This year, NBC lost 16.5 percent, ABC lost 12.3 percent and CBS 9.8 percent, Nielsen said.

Holt is anchoring for Brian Williams, who was suspended for six months for misleading viewers about his coverage of the Iraq War, and trying to preserve a winning streak that has lasted almost five and a half years.

Another impressive streak continued in prime time, where Fox's "Empire" has increased its audience every week that it has been on the air. Last week, the music business soap opera reached 14.9 million viewers on Wednesday night.

There were few other surprises in prime time, where the CBS one-two punch of "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory" were the two most popular programs. Eighteen of the 25 most-watched shows were on CBS, Nielsen said.

CBS averaged 9.2 million viewers last week, easily outdistancing NBC, which had 6.4 million. ABC had 5.6 million, Fox had 4.6 million, Univision had 3 million, Telemundo had 1.3 million, the CW had 1.1 million and ION Television had 1 million.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 1.83 million viewers in prime time. AMC had 1.81 million, the Disney Channel had 1.8 million, ESPN had 1.75 million and TBS had 1.67 million.

For the week of March 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 16.22 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.13 million; "Empire," Fox, 14.92 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 13.95 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 13.78 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 13.73 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 12.61 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.49 million; "Madam Secretary," CBS, 11.26 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 11.07 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 is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.