The Race For The Nightly News Starts Tonight

For the first time since 1997 NBC news is looking at ABC gaining ground in the rear view mirror and they are coming fast. As News Talk Florida first reported last week ABC World News Tonight with David Muir had beaten the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams last Friday night in the overnight ratings.

Hoping to stop the network from losing any more credibility, most of TV viewers in the United States know that NBC suspended Brian Williams, the most-watched evening-news anchor in the country, from his duties as chief anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” for six months without pay in the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003.

As  Williams’ embellishments have dominated NBC News since early last week, when his account of facing enemy fire while riding in a helicopter in 2003 was challenged by Iraq veterans. Williams’ last broadcast took place on Friday. Lester Holt will continue as substitute anchor.

So, tonight with Lester Holt will start his first full week in the place of Williams, at least for the next six month’s it is “Game on,” as ABC, CBS and NBC go to battle over half a billion dollars spent by advertisers on the three nightly newscasts.

NBC made more than $200 million in 2014 with the “Nightly News” — $30 million more than ABC and $50 million more than CBS. You can bet that starting tonight at ABC David Muir and over at CBS Scott Pelley know that the pressure is on them to take advantage of Brian Williams gaffe that cost him his anchor seat at NBC and opened the door for the possibility for a new top dog in night news for the first time in nearly 18 years.

The fallout from Williams’s embellished account of a helicopter ride during the Iraq war is handing  ABC the No.2 rated newscast a huge chance to become the top rated news. ABC has been closing in, narrowing the gap to just 600,000 viewers in the past six months. If ABC could maintain that through the end of the season in May, the network would be closer than it has been in seven years to becoming the top rated nightly news program.

A 30-second “NBC Nightly News” spot goes for about $48,000, while ABC charges $37,000 and CBS $33,800, Nielsen data show. Last week, with the exception of Friday’s win by ABC, things were solid for NBC.

They drew an average 10.2 million viewers a night, beating ABC by 7.6 percent and CBS by 30 percent, according to Nielsen data provided by NBC. As matter of fact it was the was the biggest audience in four weeks for NBC.

ABC Good Morning America remains the top rated morning news program and the network’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, is the top rated political talk show. So, ABC knows that if they can reel in the nightly news slot that would be huge for the network.

So the battle begins tonight what will be a huge and no doubt expensive battle for news dominance.



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.