Network Evening News Schedules

Every weeknight, Matt and I TiVo “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams.” Just more evidence that we are 36 going on 70. We watch it during dinner or after we get home from whatever we’ve been doing that evening.

For the last two decades, the three network evening news broadcasts have all aired at 6:30 p.m. But when I was a kid, they all aired at 7:00. At least in the New York City area they did — I don’t know about the rest of the country. But even though they aired at 7:00, they still taped at 6:30, so perhaps they aired live at 6:30 in most other parts of the country. Perhaps people ate dinner earlier outside of the New York area.

I remember being surprised when the national news broadcasts first moved to 6:30. Six-thirty seemed too early for a nationwide network broadcast. Network primetime is from 8:00 to 11:00, and to me there seemed to be something more prestigious about airing at 7:00 instead of 6:30.

A couple of years ago I did some research to find out exactly when the three networks moved their news broadcasts — in the New York area, anyway — from 7:00 to 6:30. It turns out they didn’t all do it at the same time.

“ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” was the first to move from 7:00 to 6:30. It moved on December 15, 1986.

“The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” was next. It moved on September 5, 1988.

Last was “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” which moved on September 9, 1991.

So for the last 19 years, the three shows have gone head-to-head-to-head at 6:30 instead of 7:00. And instead of Dan, Tom and Peter, it’s Katie, Brian and Diane.

The nightly news is largely irrelevant now. By the time I watch it I already know what’s happened that day. But it’s a nice evening ritual.

(And no, I can’t imagine this post will be interesting to everyone, but hopefully it will help random Googlers out there who are looking for this info.)