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Disney’s ABC ‘World News Tonight’ Dominates NBC, CBS, And All Cable News


The first week of March brings us many things: melting snow pack, major league baseball spring training, and the calm before the March Madness storm. It also brings us the results of another major competition, February sweeps. One of this year’s big winners, The Disney owned ABC’s ‘World News Tonight with David Muir.” 

First, let’s talk sweeps. Four times a year (February, May, July, and November) Nielsen television ratings are taken over a four week period. While we typically get overnight ratings for programs, these are usually rough estimates based on a preliminary set of data. These numbers eventually get refined as Nielsen collects more information.  Go back and look at news reports following big events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, you will find that the first reports of ratings the next morning are much different than the actual numbers that eventually get calculated.

These four month periods are referred to as ‘sweeps’ and the information gathered during this time has huge impacts on advertising rates, cancellation or retention decisions, and general bragging rights. This is why you see the biggest television events scheduled during these months. You will also notice that television series will have famous guest stars, special gimmicks (think 30 Rock’s live shows), and season premiers or finales. Basically, ratings mean more to a network in February, May, July, and November, compared to the rest of the calendar year.

Which brings us to ABC’s ‘World News Tonight with David Muir.’ The Disney owned network and news division won the February 2021 sweep for evening news program in the big three areas: total viewers (9.665 million), adults 25-54 (1.906 million), and, the coveted demographic for advertisers, adults 18-49 (1.320 million).

This marks the 18th straight sweep for the ABC news program in total viewers. For the fourth sweep in a row ‘World News Tonight’ improved on its year-ago sweep performance in all three areas, standing as the only newscast to grow in all key measures.

Not only did ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ out deliver ‘NBC Nightly News’ and CBS’ ‘Evening News,’ it also beat the three cable news channels, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, combined.

ABC’s ‘World News Tonight with David Muir’ airs 6:30-7:00PM Monday through Friday. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC. 

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