America’s New Favorite Tragedy-Comedy: The Network News and Its Astounding Resurgence

by Joyce Wang ’22

Norah O’Donnell, David Muir, and Lester Holt (left to right) drawn by Joyce Wang

Published Oct. 5th, 2020

ABC scored big this year, having one of their programs win “Most Watched Program Across All of Television.” The man behind this program is ABC’s hallmark bachelor.  

Likely, he isn’t the one you’re thinking of.  

This bachelor doesn’t deliver roses to adoring women. This bachelor delivers the news at 6:30 PM every weeknight to Americans with a reawakened thirst for knowledge. He is the — conveniently single — anchor of ABC’s flagship nightly news program World News Tonight, David Muir.

The Big Three Broadcast Networks- ABC, NBC, and CBS- experienced record numbers of news viewers this year. Nightly news programs edged out fan favorites of the past, like The Bachelor and The Masked Singer. ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir led this year’s race. Starting from Sept. 29, ABC averaged 8.5 million viewers per night according to the latest Nielsen ratings. NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt received 7.33 million, and CBS’ Evening News with Norah O’Donnell followed with 5.15 million. For comparison, ABC’s The Bachelor averaged 7.60 million viewers per episode back in March (Nielsen Ratings). 

These numbers are understandable. America’s climate is tense. COVID-19 has claimed at least 205,000 lives, according to The Washington Post, America is experiencing its largest surge in racial awareness since the 1960s, and it’s an Election Year. With 2020’s wild combination of events, it has become impossible to stay ignorant. Every network newscast is receiving a wave of anxious people at their doorstep. ABC’s World News Tonight averaged 7.798 million viewers in 2018 (Forbes). It now boasts over 8.5 million.

The era that America is living in right now is unprecedented, and our senses of entertainment have adapted. It’s hard to look away from the current intersection of disasters in America. With that, a new thirst for knowledge has blossomed in the majority of Americans. Behind the millions of viewers are individuals taking up the responsibility of being informed and using knowledge as self-assurance. People have evidently braved the fear of the “brutal truth.” It’s quite the phenomenon.  

While David Muir is arguably more attractive than any bachelor from The Bachelor, the real heat that he and his colleagues have brought to America is the new fervor for citizens to arm themselves with facts. Americans, impatient with lies and cover-ups, have taken it upon themselves to fight dishonesty with the power of free press.

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