The Lies And Truth In The Bitter Battle For Ratings Between NBC And ABC

Since the days when there were only two networks on the air, the competition for ratings has been fierce on TV. Now, ABC is being accused of lying about their numbers in an effort to beat NBC.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: David Muir attends the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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Since the days when there were only two networks on the air, the competition for ratings has been fierce on TV. Now, ABC is being accused of lying about their numbers in an effort to beat NBC.

ABC is being accused of falsely inflating their ratings numbers in order to look as though they’re getting more viewers of NBC. And while that sounds absolutely horrible, this wouldn’t be the first time a network has used trickery to play the ratings game.

NBC was caught inflating their own numbers back in 2015 by airing their Nightly News two times a night and adding the numbers together, which is not an honest way of measuring ratings.

Now, ABC and NBC are neck-and-neck again in ratings, and ABC just may be falsely tweaking their results to look superior. ABC has started airing World News Tonight at 3:30 p.m. in L.A., when it’s airing at 6:30 p.m. on the East Coast. The show airs again at 6:30 p.m. in L.A.

For the second year in a row, World News Tonight has received the most overall viewers — or has it? One unnamed insider quoted by Fox News said that “the bottom line is, World News Tonight’s numbers belong in Disney’s Land of Make Believe.”

But perhaps ABC’s numbers only look better than they actually are because NBC’s are so low. The network’s Nightly News is suffering its lowest-ever ratings year, though NBC did score a small victory in drawing more viewers in the 25-54 demographic than ABC’s World News Tonight, according to The Wrap.

Between ABC, CBS, and NBC, only ABC showed ratings growth this year for a daily news program, while every other daily news program showed a decline in viewers, as reported by the Los Angeles Times this week.

ABC’s World News anchored by David Muir enjoyed an average of 8.6 million viewers in the evening news ratings race, a 4 percent increase from the previous season. Muir began leading the broadcast when Diane Sawyer left in 2014.

Now, unnamed insiders are saying that ABC is actually inflating those numbers in an attempt to look more prominent.

The competition for ratings among the networks is getting increasingly more vicious as streaming services and cable networks continue to gain viewers, and it’s not far-fetched to believe that some network execs may be willing to tell lies in order to look as though they’re getting more viewers than they actually are.

Ratings have always been a bit of a dirty business among the networks, dating back to the early days of TV when one game show got caught actually giving answers to the contestants they thought viewers would want to see win. And that’s what they were doing in the 1950s.

What levels could the networks potentially stoop to now, when competition is even uglier?