Nightline Ratings Boost
ABC News’s “Nightline” scored nearly 30 percent more viewers on Friday night than it did the rest of last week, according to preliminary numbers.
An average of about 4.5 percent of the TV households in the nation’s largest markets watched the controversial telecast, in which anchor Ted Koppel read the names of approximately 700 U.S. servicemen and -women who have been killed in Iraq. Final viewer figures will be out later this week.
The preliminary rating is about 22 percent higher than the show had done the previous Friday in the metered markets. In fact, it’s the biggest metered-market rating for “Nightline” during a May sweeps since 2002.
And it’s all the more impressive because “The Fallen,” as “Nightline” called its Friday program, aired in only 52 of those 56 metered markets. Stations in the other markets preempted the controversial show, including all of the ABC stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair executives, who previously chastised the “liberal media” for their coverage of the war in Iraq, derided the “Nightline” broadcast as an antiwar statement — a charge Koppel denied at the end of the 40-minute telecast.
The early numbers may have come as something of a surprise to Koppel and “Nightline” Executive Producer Leroy Sievers. During their Outraged Virtue Tour last week — launched after The TV Column said it might appear unseemly to run this program during a competitive ratings derby, and after Sinclair pulled the show from its ABC stations — the two men consistently said they did not expect many people to watch the broadcast.
And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge for sale. . . .