ABC wins ratings war in tamer New Year’s Eve derby

Ratings down nationally but “Rockin’ Eve” still tops

New Year’s 2020 didn’t have Mariah Carey being confused on stage or Don Lemon hitting a bong, but viewers still tuned in to count down to the new decade.

And local viewers got to saw Mark Giangreco in drag. Yes, really.

According to Nielsen ratings, ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve With Ryan Seacrest decisively won over competing shows on NBC (Carson Daly) and Fox (Steve Harvey) with a 5.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, and 21 million viewers. The special began at 7 p.m. Chicago time, and drew eight million viewers, growing to nearly eleven million viewers at 9 p.m.  Ratings were down from a year ago, but still dominated the evening.

Overall, ABC, NBC, and Fox drew a combined 31.28 million viewers for the ball drop, down from 32.78 a year earlier.

Aside from… um, the photo above, the train-wreck atmosphere surrounding the night were mostly absent this year as they were really no unusual moments that had anyone taking on social media. The absence of Jenny McCarthy and Kathy Griffin may have also played a role in the more subdued festivities though admittedly, didn’t tune in to see Andy Cohen or Anderson Cooper on CNN, but if they did anything, it wasn’t exactly the talk of social media.

The musical performances on Rockin’ Eve also lacked buzz, notably the one leading up to the ball drop. This year it was Post Malone, who turned in a completely forgettable performance [Disclaimer: I’m OLD.] Could anyone make out what exactly he was singing? The best part of his appearance is when he fell off the stage.

Locally, ABC’s dominant Rockin’ Eve special led into Countdown Chicago on ABC 7, and to no one’s surprise placed an even more dominant first, finishing well ahead of NBC 5’s New Year’s Eve special and WGN’s first ever New Year’s Eve Blast, who finished a distant third.

Like in previous years, ABC 7 opened with a snazzy dance number with the station’s Terrell Brown and Cheryl Scott in the forefront, while Giangreco was in drag (he wore his regular clothes when he co-hosted with Janet Davies.) Maybe next year if ABC 7 can snag Kellogg’s as a sponsor, Giangreco could appear in a Tony The Tiger costume. 

WGN’s coverage was the most disappointing, relying too much on pre-packaged material, including a segment they ran from a newscast days ago. But the station should get props for surrounding Blast with two classic Marx Brothers movies – a rarity in local television these days.


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