Skip to content

People stuck at home due to virus turn to news programming


NEW YORK — With millions of American homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic, there's little surprise they're curious about what's going on in the world.

News programs reached more people than they had in years and, in one case, notched its biggest average audience ever, the Nielsen company said.

Two of the broadcast evening newscasts, which offer a cogent summary of the day's developments, had a bigger average audience than any program in prime-time last week. They were ABC's “World News Tonight,” up 38 per cent in viewers from its season average, and NBC's “Nightly News,” up 47 per cent.

The “CBS Evening News” audience was 31 per cent higher than it is typically.

The cable news networks, which never turn off, were also playing in millions of American homes. MSNBC's daytime audience, starting at 6 a.m., was higher than any other week since the network began in 1996.

CNN's daytime audience was up a whopping 132 per cent from the same week a year ago. Fox News Channel's was up 77 per cent and MSNBC's up 38 per cent, Nielsen said.

CBS' “60 Minutes” was the most popular prime time show of the week.

CBS, with an average of 5.8 million viewers, was the top broadcast network in prime time, although down from last year without the NCAA men's basketball tournament. NBC averaged 5.2 million viewers, ABC had 4.9 million, Fox had 3.2 million, Univision had 1.7 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and the CW had 790,000

Fox News Channel topped the cable networks with an average of 4.05 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.42 million, CNN had 2.15 million, HGTV had 1.22 million and TLC had 1.14 million.

“World News Tonight” averaged 12.5 million viewers for ABC, NBC's “Nightly News” averaged 12 million viewers and the “CBS Evening News” had 7.6 million.

For the week of March 16-22, the top 20 programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.9 million.

2. “The Voice," NBC, 9.99 million.

3. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 9.18 million.

4. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 9.02 million.

5. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 8.02 million.

6. “Survivor,” CBS, 7.85 million.

7. “American Idol,” ABC, 7.69 million.

8. “NCIS,” CBS, 7.54 million.

9. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 7.51 million.

10. “NCIS: Los Angeles,'” CBS, 7.44 million.

11. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 7.401 million.

12. “Station 19," ABC, 7.397 million.

13. “Bull,” CBS, 7.12 million.

14. “This is Us,” 7.08 million.

15. “Grey's Anatomy,” ABC, 7.03 million.

16. “FBI,” CBS, 7 million.

17. “911,” Fox, 6.97 million.

18. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 6.9 million.

19. “NCIS” (Sunday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 6.57 million.

20. “The Conners,” ABC, 6.5 million.

David Bauder, The Associated Press