Okay it way too early to say if NBC is going to fall out of the top news spot after the network suspended Brian Williams, the managing editor and anchor of The NBC Nightly News yesterday. But there are some early signs that the network is being pushed by the No. 2 group at the ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.
After trailing Williams even through most of the NBC anchor’s early troubles last week, come Friday, once the scandal had become a bigger national news story, Muir won by more than 300,000 viewers ages 25 to 54, the key demographic, and almost 500,000 total viewers according to rating provided by CNN Money.
A win for ABC and that shows there could be an opening if NBC seems to be slipping. So, it is “game on,” in the high stakes world of the evening news.
Consider that Lester Holt, who will be replacing Williams for the next six months is auditioning in case his boss does not return. Holt is a very solid journalist and a very likable guy, but we will now find out if he can use his own personality to hold off the challenge of Muir.
However, you can bet the Disney – ABC promotion machine will be in full force making sure that Muir’s face shows up everywhere. Before he took over the lead anchor chair last year from Diane Sawyer, he was the networks lead field reporter.
According to the highly respected Tyndall Report, Muir’s was a very busy guy, as he received more airtime in both 2012 and 2013 than any other reporter at ABC. He also was the network’s weekend anchor for the ABC World News Tonight and served as the co-anchor of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20.
He was named one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive in 2014 and TMZ, called him “the Brad Pitt of news anchors.” So, he has the journalistic chops along with the looks that networks love when they want a top anchor. .
But ABC needs to make him the face of their news so you can bet he will make a return trip to Los Angeles for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. A trip across town to visit the gang at The View, will also be part of his future.
The network knows that what helped Brian Williams at NBC was stepping outside news for appearances on The Daily Show, where he and Jon Stewart would poke fun at each other. He also was a guest from time to time over at CBS on The Late Night with David Letterman.
ABC’s Good Morning America has been the No. 1 over Today, since last September and they are building on that lead. “GMA” is still seeing its largest season margins over “Today” — in both total viewers and the demo — since the 1991-92 season.
If there is a chance, no matter how slight that ABC World News Tonight can best NBC Nightly News then it is game on. So if you don’t know who David Muir is now you will very soon.