11:17am PT by Michael O'Connell
Diane Sawyer Goes Out on a Ratings High Note
ABC News' hot summer continued with last week's coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Topping its NBC competition for the seventh time in the last eight weeks among the news demo of adults 25-54, World News' victory also marked the last full week at the anchor desk for the exiting Diane Sawyer. Her five-year tenure at the broadcast comes to an end with David Muir taking over in September.
World News posted its best showing in the key demo in nearly four months for the week of Aug. 18, averaging 1.92 million viewers, narrowly topping Brian Williams' 1.86 million who tuned into his NBC telecast. Both were improved significantly from the week prior, and NBC's Nightly News still posted the advantage among total viewers: 8.02 million to 7.36 million.
It was a heated week across the TV news landscape as many anchors and reports flocked to Ferguson to cover protests sparked by the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a local police officer. On cable, CNN saw several key ratings coups over perennial victory Fox News Channel — though the latter ultimately won the full week.
As for ABC News, this summer should also stand as a vote of confidence for Muir. The incoming anchor has spent much of the time since June's transition announcement pinch-hitting for Sawyer and has won several full weeks on his own.
Sawyer's time at World News may be coming to an end, but the longtime ABC News personality is staying on board. ABC News president James Goldston stressed that Sawyer will conduct interviews and create specials at the network "for many years to come."