Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Evening News Horse Race

Changes at the network helms and addition of Katie Couric have sparked a renewed competition among the Big Three for the top spot in the evening news slot. An Associated Press story shows a competitive race being waged by Williams, Couric and Gibson. In that order. Don't write off Gibson, who even in third place, is within striking distance of first place. With 7.68 million viewers, World News Tonight with Charles Gibson is roughly 600,000 viewers behind Williams' audience of 8.18 million.

What does this mean? The answer: with 30 million regular viewers network news is not dead. In 40 years, the Big Three broadcasts have lost about 50% of their audience. Considering how the news market has fractured with many options both on cable and online, this 50% drop could, and statistically, should have cut deeper.

That the networks are grappling for the top spot is encouraging, proof positive that resources can and probably will be used to enhance network broadcasts.


Below is the AP article...

NBC pulled ahead last week in the suddenly supercharged network evening-news derby, according to preliminary ratings.

"NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" was the most-watched newscast for all five nights, ending the two-week winning streak posted by CBS anchor Katie Couric since her Sept. 5 debut, according to early Nielsen Media Research figures released Monday by NBC.

Final numbers for Sept. 18-22 will be out Tuesday.

The NBC newscast averaged 8.18 million viewers, while "CBS Evening News" drew an audience of 7.69 million, according to the preliminary ratings. ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" was watched by 7.58 million viewers.

Last week, Couric's second on the job, "CBS Evening News" averaged 7.88 million viewers to edge past NBC's audience tally of 7.83 million.

In her debut week, Couric led the CBS newscast to its first weekly ratings win in five years with an average audience of 10.2 million, eclipsing NBC's 7.1 million and ABC's 6.9 million. NBC, the longtime front-runner, has placed first for 112 of the last 116 weeks.

CBS News President Sean McManus has reiterated that the focus of his network's new-look newscast is on "long-term developments, not the short term."

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