ABC's David Muir fights back in TV-news battle with NBC's Lester Holt

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
NBC and Lester Holt Reclaim Lead in Tight Evening News Race

By: Variety

The fight for evening-news dominance between ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "NBC Nightly News" isn't over yet – even if the NBC newscast has made great strides since Lester Holt officially took its reins in late June.

The ABC newscast, anchored by David Muir, won more of the viewers desired by advertisers in news programming than NBC's in the five days between July 20 and July 24, according to Nielsen. It is the first time in five weeks that the ABC program has trumped NBC in this ratings category. "Nightly News" remained the most-watched evening newscast on broadcast TV, a position it has enjoyed for five consecutive weeks.

The two networks have been enveloped in a push-and-pull fracas for months. ABC's newscast under Muir has made significant strides against NBC's. Muir took over the anchor desk from Diane Sawyer in September of last year. As NBC grappled with the fallout from a disclosure made by the previous "Nightly" anchor, Brian Williams that he falsified some accounts of previous reporting trips, ABC gained even more ground: In April, ABC's "World News Tonight" bested "NBC Nightly News" in total viewers for the first time in more than five years. For a time, ABC took the season-to-date lead among viewers between 25 and 54, too.

See photos of David Muir:

33 PHOTOS
David Muir
See Gallery
ABC's David Muir fights back in TV-news battle with NBC's Lester Holt
In this image released by ABC News, anchor David Muir from "World News Tonight with David Muir," appears on the set in New York. ABC's "World News" beat NBC's "Nightly News" in viewership last week, only a month after David Muir took over as anchor from Diane Sawyer. NBC's Brian Williams-led newscast had ruled for 263 consecutive weeks, a streak that began in September 2009, and for 310 of the past 311 weeks. Last week ABC's broadcast averaged 8.42 million viewers, while NBC had 8.25 million, the Nielsen company said. (AP Photo/ABC, Lorenzo Bevilaqua)
David Muir attends A Celebration of Barbara Walters at the Four Seasons Restaurant on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
This image released by ABC News shows, from left, David Muir, George Stephanopoulos, Diane Sawyer and ABC News President James Goldston on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in New York. Sawyer is stepping down as its evening news anchor, to be replaced by David Muir. The network said Sawyer will concentrate on interviews and specials. During her tenure, ABC’s “World News” was a steady second to Brian Williams at NBC, although the ABC broadcast has made gains among younger viewers. ABC said George Stephanopoulos will take on a new role as chief anchor for live news events. (AP Photo/ABC, Heidi Gutman)
ABC News anchor David Muir speaks before retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali received the Liberty Medal during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - The GMA team gets soaked taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, promoting awareness of ALS, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 8/15/14, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID MUIR
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 1: Amy Robach, David Muir host of Good Morning America in New York.Credit:RW/MediaPunch/IPX
BOSTON - AUGUST 26: David Muir, who will replace Diane Sawyer at ABC, filmed promos with J.C. Monahan, of WCVB's Chronicle, along the waterfront in Boston on August 26, 2014. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: (L-R) Amy Robach, Ginger Zee, Lara Spencer, David Muir, and Brad Paisley speak on stage during ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: (L-R) Robin Roberts, David Muir, and Amy Robach dance on stage while the band Magic! performs on ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15: (L-R) Ginger Zee, David Muir, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, Amy Robach, Lara Spencer, and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line visit ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: (L-R) President of ABC News James Goldston, Barbara Walters, ABC News anchor David Muir and Chairman of the Walt Disney Company Bob Iger attend the 'Barbara Walters Building' ABC News Headquarters Dedication Ceremony on May 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: (L-R) ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer; ABC News anchor David Muir and ABC 'Good Morning America' anchor Robin Roberts attend the dedication ceremony as ABC News headquarters in New York is proclaimed 'The Barbara Walters Building' ABC News Headquarters Dedication Ceremony on May 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
ABC NEWS - ABC News covers the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, 8/28/12, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID MUIR, DIANE SAWYER
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 03: Journalist David Muir (R) and guest attend the Bloomberg & Vanity Fair cocktail reception following the 2014 WHCA Dinner at Villa Firenze on May 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VF14/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: David Muir visits The Empire State Building on April 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: David Muir visits The Empire State Building on April 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: (L-R) Journalist David Muir, Kelly Ripa, President of Disney/ABC Anne Sweeney, Dean at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Lorraine Branham and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Journalist David Muir attends the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
THE VIEW - (airs 1.25.13) ABC News’ David Muir guest co-hosts “Guy Day Friday”; Drew Barrymore introduces her new makeup line, “Flower”; “Real Life Hot Topics” with a brother and sister from Iowa, separated as children, placed into foster care 65 years ago and recently reunited through Facebook. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 noon, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) WHOOPI GOLDBERG, JOY BEHAR, DAVID MUIR, SHERRI SHEPHERD, ELISABETH HASSELBECK
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige are guests on 'Good Morning America,' 1/28/13, airing on the ABc Televsion Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID MUIR, ELIZABETH VARGAS, GEORGE STEPHAOPOULOS, LARA SPENCER, SAM CHAMPION
ABC NEWS - ABC News' David Muir follows the 2012 Republican Race from Manchester, New Hampshire. Coverage of the election airs on all ABC News Platforms. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images)DAVID MUIR
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rocco DiSpirito shares easy recipes to help you slim down on 'Good Morning America,' 7/19/11 on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)DAVID MUIR, ROCCO DISPIRITO
ABC NEWS - From London, ABC News broadcasts live from Media Village at Buckingham Palace, 4/29/11, as viewers are taken inside the Royal Wedding with comprehensive coverage across all ABC News platforms.(Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images)DAVID MUIR, DIANE SAWYER, BARBARA WALTERS
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - David Muir operates the GMA Smart Screen on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 3/21/11. GM11 (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)DAVID MUIR
NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: (L-R) Anchors Diane Sawyer and David Muir with performer Reba McEntire (middle) attend ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 21, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Janette Pellegrini/WireImage)
ABC World News weekend anchor David Muir and model Petra Nemcova attend the 10th Annual Women Who Care luncheon benefitting United Cerebral Palsy of New York City at Cipriani 42nd Street on Thursday, May 5, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: David Muir (L) and Nasri Atweh of the band Magic! jump on stage during ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on August 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - JUNE 25: ABC News today, June 25, 2014, announced new roles for anchors Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and David Muir. Sawyer will lead new programming tackling big issues and extraordinary interviews. Stephanopoulos, Anchor of Good Morning America and This Week, has been promoted to Chief Anchor of ABC News, handling special reports and breaking news. Muir, Anchor of 20/20, will become Anchor and Managing Editor of World News starting September 2. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID MUIR, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, DIANE SAWYER, JAMES GOLDSTON
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Journalist David Muir attends the Dior & Vanity Fair with The Cinema Society premiere of The Weinstein Company's 'The Immigrant' at The Paley Center for Media on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - OneRepublic performs live from Central Park on 'Good Morning America,' 7/12/13, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID MUIR, ONE REPUBLIC
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12: David Muir (2nd L) and Lara Spencer (C) interview (L-R) Drew Brown, Ryan Tedder, Zach Filkins, Eddie Fisher, and Brent Kutzle of OneRepublic during ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield on July 12, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Donald Newhouse(L) and ABC NewÕs David Muir attends the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"World News Tonight" averaged 1,896,000 viewers between 25 and 54, according to Nielsen, compared with 1,841,00 for "NBC Nightly News" and 1,344,000 for CBS' "CBS Evening News." The NBC newscast was seen by an average of 7,657,000 viewers during the five-day period, compared with 7,440,000 viewers for "World News Tonight" and 6,064,000 viewers for "CBS Evening News." Charlie Rose filled in for Scott Pelley during last week's broadcasts.

The skirmish is far from over. Season to date as of last week, "Nightly News" leads "World News Tonight" by just 6,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 and by 352,000 total viewers.

As this week's ratings demonstrate, neither side's position is guaranteed.

See photos of Lester Holt:

31 PHOTOS
Lester Holt - NBC News
See Gallery
ABC's David Muir fights back in TV-news battle with NBC's Lester Holt
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2014 file photo, Lester Holt attends the New York premiere of "Nightcrawler" in New York. Holt's first report card as NBC's choice to fill in for suspended anchor Brian Williams as "Nightly News" anchor found him maintaining the network's ratings lead, although the competition has tightened. The understated understudy has worked without a break since Williams took himself off the newscast on Feb. 7 and was suspended for six months by NBC News on Feb. 10. The network continues to investigate Williams for misrepresenting his experiences as a journalist. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Lester Holt, left, and Al Roker dress as The Blues Brothers from Saturday Night Live during a Halloween episode of NBC's "Today" show on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Lester Holt attends the 20th anniversary of The Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, in New York on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- 'October Surprise' Episode 1506 -- Pictured: Lester Holt as himself -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
"Today" show co-hosts Lester Holt and Natalie Morales attend the 20th anniversary of The Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, in New York on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Peter Alexander, Natalie Morales, Willie Geist, Lester Holt, Al Roker, Julia Sweeney, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Jenna Bush Hager, Meredith Vieira, Hoda Kotb, and Kathie Lee Gifford appear on the 'Today' show on Thursday, October 31, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Lester Holt and Al Roker appear on the 'Today' show on Thursday, October 31, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0036 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lester Holt and Seth Meyers during the 'Forced Friends' skit on April 24, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (BROADCAST-OUT) (L-R) Jordan Malone, Eddy Alvarez, J.R. Celski and Chris Creveling of the USA Speed Skating team pose with Lester Holt on the set of the NBC TODAY Show during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: (BROADCAST-OUT) Julie Chu of the USA Women's Hockey team speaks with Lester Holt on the set of the NBC TODAY Show wearing the Ralph Lauren outfits to be worn at the Closing Ceremonies during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: (Exclusive Coverage) Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett speak to Lester Holt onstage at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts on June 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Todd English, Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
From left, Jeff Zucker, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Meredith Vieira, Al Roker, Jim Bell, Ann Curry and Lester Holt attend the 20th anniversary of The Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, in New York on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank is interviewed on the NBC "Today" television program by Lester Holt, in New York Thursday Dec. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)**EXCLUSIVE**
** ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, APRIL 28 ** News anchor Lester Holt works on the MSNBC set in Secaucus, N.J., April 15, 2003. Holt, who was MSNBC's chief Iraq war anchor, is a star on the rise at NBC News. (AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 20: NBC journalist Lester Holt attends NBC's 'Grimm' press line during Comic-Con International 2013 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel on July 20, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Lester Holt and Richard Engel appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4408 -- Pictured: News anchor Lester Holt during an interview on February 13, 2013 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News' Lester Holt, Natalie Morales, E!'s Jason Kennedy, NBC News' Dylan Dreyer and Erica Hill appear on NBC News' 'Today' show on March 22, 2013 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Martha Stewart and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Jane Pauley, Lester Holt and Ann Curry appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer, Jane Pauley, Lester Holt and Ann Curry appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Ann Curry and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Robach and Lester Holt appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Lester Holt appears on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: NBC Weekend Nightly News anchor Lester Holt speaks onstage at the 49th USO Armed Forces Gala & Gold Medal Dinner to Honor Military Heroes and Volunteers at 583 Park Avenue on December 9, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for USO of Metropolitan New York)
TODAY -- Pictured: Lester Holt appears on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More from Variety:
Diane Keaton to Star Opposite Jude Law in HBO-Produced Series 'The Young Pope'
CBS Will Live-Stream Super Bowl Ads In Big Move For Media Industry
Netflix Boss Teases Olsen Twins Return to 'Fuller House'


Read Full Story

From Our Partners