Viewers turned away from NBC anchor Brian Williams on Friday in the wake of a scandal over his false claims that his helicopter was hit by enemy fire and forced down in Iraq in 2003.
Preliminary Nielsen figures for last week’s evening newscasts show 8 million viewers tuned in to NBC’s A on Friday, down 16% from 9.5 million who watched on Thursday and 18% from Wednesday, when he apologized on-air for the error.
But Fridays are the lowest-rated night for all newscasts: Perennially third-place CBS dipped 15% from Thursday, to 6.4 million, though ABC was off just 3%, indicating it might have picked up some viewers from NBC.
Comparing Friday to the same day in the previous week, ABC was up 1% among all viewers, while NBC dropped slightly. But among adults ages 25 to 54 — the target audience for evening-news advertisers, and a group more likely to have seen trending hashtags like #BrianWilliamsMisremembers — ABC climbed 7% while NBC dropped 11%.
ABC’s World News has been gaining on NBC this season, winning a few weeks in total viewers — and six Fridays — since Diane Sawyer was replaced by David Muir in September.
But final figures, due Tuesday, are expected to show NBC will win the full week in both viewers and adults ages 25 to 54. Weekend anchor Lester Holt will fill in for Williams this week as the embattled anchor took what he called a self-imposed leave from the newscast. NBC is investigating the controversy.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Gary Levin and Roger Yu