NEW YORK — NBC's "Nightly News" has lost to ABC in the ratings for the second straight week and only the second time since 2009, increasing pressure on the network to decide whether suspended anchor Brian Williams will return.
The Nielsen company said ABC's "World News Tonight" averaged 8.3 million viewers last week to NBC's 8 million. NBC had won the ratings competition for 288 straight weeks until ABC won the week before.
The NBC newscast has been in limbo since Williams was suspended in late February, with Lester Holt filling in. Williams was suspended for telling a false story about his experiences covering the Iraq War, launching an internal investigation within NBC about whether there are other instances that he wasn't truthful.
NBC said there's no word on when that investigation will be complete, and wouldn't comment Tuesday on whether the ratings losses would affect the timing.
ABC's victories were probably inevitable, given the network's success in the morning and the gradual tightening of the evening news race over the past two years, said Andrew Tyndall, a consultant who studies the content of evening newscasts.
"This is the last domino to fall," he said.
NBC's "Nightly News" is being squeezed, with viewers attracted to a lighter news touch heading to ABC and those seeking a more traditional newscast heading to CBS, Tyndall said. There is evidence, however, that under David Muir the past few months ABC's emphasis on celebrities and other lighter fare is lessening, he said.
Since Holt took over, the NBC newscast seems to be increasing the number of stories it reports and is putting less emphasis on the anchor, he said.
The "CBS Evening News" finished with 6.8 million viewers last week.
CBS' prime-time dominance was even more pronounced than usual last week, with the NCAA men's basketball championship between Duke and Wisconsin drawing 28.2 million viewers, Nielsen said. CBS had 15 of the 20 most-watched telecasts.
In its second week, NBC's Bible story "A.D." slipped out of the top 20. Former longtime ratings champ "American Idol" ranked No. 31 in viewers last week.
CBS averaged 10.6 million viewers in prime-time. ABC had 6.3 million viewers, NBC had 5.7 million, Fox had 3.6 million, Univision had 2.9 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million, the CW had 1.12 million and ION Television had 1.11 million.
USA was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 1.61 million viewers in prime time. The Disney Channel had 1.56 million, Fox News Channel had 1.45 million, History had 1.42 million and TBS had 1.32 million.
For the week of April 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Wisconsin vs. Duke, CBS, 28.26 million; "NCAA Championship Pre-Game," CBS, 18.45 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.85 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 14.78 million; NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 14.33 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 13.75 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 12.6 million; "Madam Secretary," CBS, 11.39 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.07 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 10.97 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.