ABC, NBC news neck and neck

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After passing the lead back and forth all year, ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson" and "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" ended up in a near-photo finish with ABC holding an ever-so-slim lead in viewership and the adults 25-54 demographic.

ABC's "World News" averaged 8.4 million viewers and a 2.1 rating/9 share in the demo, according to 2007 data released Thursday by Nielsen Media Research. NBC averaged 8.3 million viewers and a 2.1/8 in adults 25-54 — 90,000 viewers and a share point separating the two.

In the fourth quarter, ABC and NBC were tied in adults 25-54, and NBC topped ABC by 130,000 viewers. What isn't in question is third place. The "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" averaged 6.4 million viewers and a 1.6/7 in the demo.

For 2007, Fox News Channel remained the top cable newser and the sixth-most-popular cable channel during primetime. MSNBC, however, posted the strongest percentage gains with a 28% increase in viewership in primetime and a 22% rise in the demo during primetime. Fox News' primetime viewership is up 3%, and adults 25-54 ratings were flat while CNN's was flat in viewership and up 7% in adults 25-54, Nielsen Media Research said.

Among broadcast networks, Fox Sports was the top network in National Football League telecasts for the first time ever and an average 17.1 million viewers for its Sunday afternoon package.

It was Fox's most-watched season since 1995 and the National Football Conference package was up 3% in viewership compared to 2006.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" package averaged 16 million viewers, which was down 9% from a year ago and was the lowest-rated season for an NFL primetime package, lower than 2005's "Monday Night Football" in its last year on ABC.
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