11:21am PT by Michael O'Connell
ABC Evening News Heir David Muir Scores Best Ratings Win for 'World News' in Six Years
Diane Sawyer's announcement that she'll soon be handing over the reins of World News to David Muir hasn't stalled ABC's ratings gains. In fact, Muir's first full week guesting in her anchor desk since news of his promotion brought the ABC evening news telecast its biggest margin of victory over NBC's Nightly News in six years.
The Fourth of July holiday week, which saw Muir anchor Monday through Thursday, averaged a 1.6 rating (1.88 million viewers) in the key news demographic of adults 25-54. World News also won the younger demo, but one of its most notable feats was how close it came to winning among total viewers: The show's 7.44 million trailed NBC by only 68,000 viewers, the closest finish in nearly two years.
ANALYSIS NBC News Exec on Plan to Reverse Ratings: 'We Want to Win Everywhere'
In all fairness, it was hardly a typical week. These ratings only account for Monday through Thursday because of the holiday, and Sawyer was not the only anchor to sit out. Brian Williams was absent on Wednesday and Thursday, with Lester Holt helming NBC's telecast those two days.
As for NBC News, it averaged a 1.4 rating with adults 25-54 (1.73 million viewers). The last time NBC trailed ABC by such a margin was in February 2008, nearly two years before Sawyer took over World News from Charlie Gibson. While ABC News also saw growth from the same period in 2013, and CBS held steady, NBC was down 14 percent in the key demo.
LIST The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2014
And unlike much of TV last week, evening news viewership was not totally fatigued by the holiday. Though NBC and CBS telecasts saw their averages drop, week to week, ABC was up by all measures.
It's hardly a referendum on Muir, but it's certainly a vote of confidence. The current weekend anchor will be a regular sub on the flagship broadcast for the rest of the summer before he officially takes over in September.