New York: Reflecting a hunger for information about the coronavirus outbreak, last Thursday's episode of ABC's “World News Tonight” had more viewers than anything that aired in television's prime time last week.
That edition of the David Muir-anchored broadcast reached 10.8 million viewers, slightly more than an original episode of “NCIS,” the Nielsen company said.
Collectively, the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts on Thursday which all air prior to the 8 p.m. start of television's traditional prime time reached 26.3 million people.
CBS' “60 Minutes,” which featured a Scott Pelley report on how New Rochelle, N.Y., is dealing with its hot spot of infected patients, and the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders also finished in Nielsen's top five last week.
Television networks will be watching closely in the next few weeks to see how viewership is increased by all of the people left housebound by the virus.
It's usually the opposite as spring approaches and improving weather send people outdoors and away from their TVs.
CBS was the week's most popular network, averaging 6.2 million viewers in prime time. ABC was second with 5.2 million, NBC had 3.7 million, Fox had 3 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 700,000.
The three news networks dominated cable viewership last week. Fox News Channel averaged 3.54 million viewers in prime time, CNN had 2.85 million, MSNBC had 2.3 million, TBS had 1.13 million and HGTV had 1.12 million.
“World News Tonight” averaged 9.9 million viewers for the week. NBC's “Nightly News” was second among the evening news programs with 8.5 million viewers and CBS had 6.1 million.