Viewers welcome Lester Holt to ‘NBC Nightly News’ with a ratings win

Lester Holt replaces Brian Williams as anchor of "NBC Nightly News."

Lester Holt replaces Brian Williams as anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Lester Holt got off to a strong start in his first week as permanent anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

Holt’s broadcast averaged 8 million viewers for the week of June 22-26, topping “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir” (7.7 million) and “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” (6.6 million), according to Nielsen data.

It was the best ratings performance for “Nightly” since the week of April 20, and the widest margin of victory over ABC’s program in three months.

“Nightly” also edged “World News” by 37,000 viewers in the 25 to 54 age group that advertisers covet when they buy commercials on news programs. It was NBC’s first win in the category since the week of May 18.


Holt had been filling in for NBC’s longtime evening news anchor Brian Williams, who was suspended in February. On June 18, NBC named Holt as the replacement for Williams, who is moving into a new role at NBC’s cable news channel MSNBC in August.

Holt clearly benefited from the national press coverage he received for his ascension to the chair. NBC’s decision on Williams also freed the network to run promotional spots for the newscast, something it hasn’t done since Williams’ suspension began.

ABC pointed out that despite the weekly win for “Nightly,” “World News” ranked first in viewers over the entire second quarter of 2015, its first quarterly win in eight years. It was also first in the 25 to 54 age group.