Based on a review of the archive at Media Bistro's Evening News Category, NBC's Nightly News has just turned in its lowest consecutive two weeks of ratings in over six years. You'd never know that from reading Chris Ariens's narrative at today's ratings post there.
The Big 3 networks combined also failed to break 20 million during both the week of August 12 (19,859,000) and August 19 (19,994,000). That's probably not unprecedented, but it's definitely a rarity.
When NBC's Nightly News last plumbed such depths of weekly audiences under 7.2 million, it was often challenged for the overall lead by ABC's World News Tonight. That hardly ever happens now. Additionally, NBC's current low ratings have a far smaller component of viewers in the 25-54 demographic.
Here are all of the weeks I located going back to early 2006, which is as far back as Media Bistro goes, where NBC's viewership was lower than 7.2 million:
The audiences in the weeks before and after the weeks in 2010 and 2007 other than those noted above were high enough to remove them from "worst two weeks ever" consideration.
Okay, it's summer vacation time, people aren't paying attention, blah-blah. It's not like that doesn't happen every year. Last year's NBC audiences during the two analogous weeks were a combined 8.8% higher. If you want a non-election year comparison, NBC's 2011 comparable weeks were a combined 13.8% higher.
You don't suppose losing credibility over things like altering the George Zimmerman 911 audio and a completely unacceptable attempt at an apology for those actions — an apology which was directed at "viewers," not Zimmerman — might have something to do with the decline?
If so, consider the ratings plunge a mild but long overdue form of accountability.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.