If suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams thought he was invaluable to the success of the NBC Nightly News, the ratings for the first full week without him are bound to be a disappointment. Williams’ replacement Lester Holt held on to first place in both total viewers and the 18-49 demo viewers:
With Lester Holt in the anchor chair, Nightly News was No. 1 in both total viewers (9.430 million) and the news demo (2.292 million) for the week of February 9-13. NBC’s newscast won four out of five nights in each metric – and all five nights in the younger 18-49 age bracket. The weekly win marks 282 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in total viewers for the NBC newscast, and six straight weeks in the news demo.
The lead between first place NBC and second place ABC did narrow. It will take some time, though, to determine what this means. The race between ABC and NBC has been tightening for some time. The drop could also be due to a backlash against NBC in general over the Williams’ scandal.
It could also mean that Williams had a small but devoted fan base that tuned in just for him. Even so, one wonders how many would have tuned out had NBC stuck with Williams as his credibility collapsed all around him.
Regardless, the news here is very good for NBC. They off-loaded a huge problem with the six-month suspension of Williams and held on to number one. At least for now.
For those of us who have long admired Lester Holt’s sturdy professionalism and felt he should not have been passed over for the anchor chair when Tom Brokaw retired, this is also good news. Holt’s a pro and earned this shot.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC