'NBC Nightly News' stays on top of the ratings without Brian Williams

'NBC Nightly News' with Lester Holt holds onto the lead in the evening news ratings race

"NBC Nightly News" is hanging on to its ratings leadership without Brian Williams.

The evening news broadcast anchored by Lester Holt while Williams is suspended averaged 10.1 million viewers for the week of Feb. 16-20, according to Nielsen.

That topped "ABC World News Tonight" with David Muir (9.7 million) and the "CBS Evening News" with Scott Pelley (8.5 million).

It's also an improvement of 673,000 viewers over the previous week.

Holt took over for Williams on Feb. 9. Williams has been suspended for six months without pay for having aired an erroneous report in which he said he was on a Chinook helicopter that was hit and forced down by enemy fire when he was covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. His work is being reviewed by NBC News to determine if there have been other discrepancies.

Holt has been Williams' primary substitute in recent years and he has often maintained the broadcast's ratings when he was in the chair.

But "NBC Nightly News" did lose its advantage among viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old age group that advertisers favor when they buy spots in news programming.

"World News Tonight" won the week in that category, edging "Nightly" by about 17,000 viewers. It was the first weekly victory in the demographic for ABC since the week of Dec. 29.

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