ABC News Tops NBC -- finally

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by Jon Friedman
July 30, 2013 5:24 PM
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ABC News is sticking its chest out today. NBC by contrast must be feeling a little sheepish.

ABC’s evening news show, “World News With Diane Sawyer,” topped the longtime pacesetter “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams,” among 25- to 54-year-old viewers last week, terminating an almost five-year streak by NBC and enlivening the public;sand the industry's excitement abut following the ratings sweepstakes.

Is this representing a passing of the news torch? NBC News has taken its PR lumps lately, as Brian Williams news-magazine show "Rock Center" was yanked off the air, and Lauer has been criticized ever since the "Today" show became embroiled in controversies.

“NBC Nightly News” had remained No. 1 among total viewers, which is usually regarded as the most crucial measure in television. But ABC’s victory is important because television ads on news shows are acquired based on the 25- to 54-year-olds. Sawyer has tried to end Williams’s winning streak for a long time.

ABC News employees were celebrating today over this long-awaited development.

As the New York Times pointed out: "For ABC, it was a narrow victory: just 38,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 separated the two shows. Partly for that reason, people at NBC News cautioned that ABC’s evening show victory could be a one-time aberration. Last spring and summer, though, those same people saw their prized morning show 'Today' fall to second place behind ABC’s 'Good Morning America,' first in total viewers and then in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. The “G.M.A.” streak is now nearly one year old."

Don't expect NBC to accept "defeat" gracefully or even graciously.

Naturally, the Times noted, NBC’s press release about the ratings didn't mention ABC’s progress -- it simply chose not to include anything about the 25- to 54-year-old viewership totals and instead stressed that “Nightly News” had been triumphing among total viewers for years. “We are grateful for another consecutive win in total viewers and are focused on producing the best newscast for our audience,” an NBC News spokeswoman said Tuesday morning. Read more from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/business/media/abcs-evening-news-bests-nbc-in-coveted-age-group.ht...

Among total viewers, “Nightly News,” which had an average of 7.54 million viewers last week, surpassed “World News” by roughly a 250,,000. Regarding viewers between the ages 25 to 54, “Nightly” garnered approximately 1.88 million, 38,000 fewer than “World News.”

ABC said this was its first win since the week of Nov. 17, 2008.

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