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Tonight, the world closes out 2020, a year that’ll never be forgotten nor missed for a minute. However, the past 12 months did provide a significant uptick in interest for the news media industry.
In addition to cable news, which broke record after record, the broadcast networks saw substantial spikes due to the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.
David Muir’s ABC World News led the way. Muir averaged 9.61 million viewers for the year, beating NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’s 8.29 million and CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell‘s 5.92 million. According to Nielsen data, World News Tonight was the most-viewed telecast on broadcast and cable in 23 of 26 weeks from March to August.
ABC adds that Muir’s broadcast won in total viewers, the 25-54 demographic, and among viewers 18-49 for the first time in 24 years. Total domination.
Muir’s ABC’s evening news also took the win in largest year-over-year gain, at 12%. Holt and O’Donnell were up 6% and 4% respectively.
Though broadcast news stays quiet in the headlines, it remains influential habit-viewing for millions of households across the country.
Of the options, Muir at ABC is the best. With his commanding presence, Muir’s newscast is strong, fast, informative, and impactful. Muir’s ability gives the day’s top stories a level of importance his competitors don’t.
On the other side of the TV guide, cable news offers longer, more in-depth broadcasts during the 6 p.m. hour. However, due to distribution, cable news reaches fewer homes than the broadcast networks. Fox News’ Bret Baier is fantastic. Wolf Blitzer at CNN remains high-quality, with newsworthy interviews daily. As for MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber, well, it isn’t a good watch.
Looking ahead, I’d expect ABC to hold in 2021, though the numbers noted do not include streaming. Lester Holt and NBC hold an innovative advantage in that medium. NBC Nightly News is available soon after it airs for free on YouTube, which draws nearly one million views over a 24 hour period. ABC World News is offered on its website and Hulu later in the evening. Each year, streaming grows and closes the gap between network TV. In overall viewership, the race in 2021 should tighten.