'World News' beats NBC in viewers, 25-54

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NEW YORK -- ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson" brought home a dual victory in the evening newscast race, beating longtime leader NBC in both viewers and the adults 25-54 demographic.

It was the best viewership rating for the ABC newscast since Feb. 28, 2005, a month before anchor Peter Jennings announced that he had lung cancer. It's also a second win in two weeks in the demo for ABC, which has seen year-over-year improvements over the past several weeks.

"We've had, consistently over the past two months, year-to-year growth and, in some cases, our highest numbers in two years," "World News" executive producer Jon Banner said. "That is maybe even more encouraging than having a win for a week, that we're growing our audience. That is hugely significant."

ABC averaged 9.7 million viewers to 9.5 million for "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" and 8 million viewers for the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric," according to data released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. ABC was ahead in the demo with a 2.6 rating/10 share, compared with NBC's 2.5/9 and CBS' 2.2/8.

"I believe we've gotten into a groove. I think it's taken a while for the audience to find Charlie, that he's anchoring 'World News' rather than anchoring 'Good Morning America,' " Banner said. "But it's also taken a while for Charlie to get comfortable. I think Charlie has taken ownership of the program, and people are seeing that."

NBC News president Steve Capus said in an interview Tuesday afternoon that he wasn't worried.

"These are three really good newscasts in a tight race," Capus said. He said that there were issues with lead-ins during sweeps weeks that adversely affect "NBC Nightly News." NBC's lead-in was down 5% compared with a year ago.

"There's not a whole lot we can do about it," Capus said. "But 'Nightly' is in a great place, Brian's doing a fantastic job." Capus was executive producer of the "NBC Nightly News" in the Tom Brokaw and early Brian Williams years.

"It's not a trend," Capus said of ABC's recent increases. There were only 182,000 viewers separating ABC and NBC, while NBC remains on top by 521,000 viewers season-to-date.
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