Accuracy in Media

TV Newser reports that incoming CBS News chairman Jeff Fager tried to rally the troops at an employee town hallwhen he made the following comments about the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.”

There’s plenty of reason to be proud our evening newscast. It is at least as good as the competition and more often than not – it’s better. But I have heard people say the evening news is a broken model–a broken model with more than 20 million Americans watching CBS, NBC or ABC every night? Most people don’t watch more than one night a week so more than 50 million Americans watching in a week? That’s not broken…that’s incredible.

Fager may be right on the current viewership of the three major broadcast networks but those numbers are down substantially over the last 20 years.

Technically the model may not be broken since broadcast news still trumps cable news viewership but it is definite need of repair as ratings continue to sink, especially at CBS where Fager has to make  decision on whether or not to Couric’s contract.

Fager is putting on a good face for the employees who have suffered from the damage wrought by Dan Rather’s Bush National Guard memo gate scandal, layoffs as the news business changed during the internet era and Couric’s poor ratings which hit a ten year low on more than one occasion last year.

Call me crazy but somehow though putting on a happy face doesn’t exactly seem like a good stance to take when you are about to enter contract negotiations with your $15 million anchor.

Here are the figures on just how far the evening news ratings have dropped.

Broadcast Network Evening News Season Average Viewership

ABC CBS NBC
Season Viewers (million) Viewers (million) Viewers (million)
1991 – 1992 13.63 11.92 11.15
1992 – 1993 13.84 12.68 11.65
1993 – 1994 13.03 11.66 11.62
1994 – 1995 12.68 10.32 10.31
1995 – 1996 11.62 9.38 10.60
1996 – 1997 10.77 9.20 10.91
1997 – 1998 10.13 10.12 10.68
1998 – 1999 10.23 9.13 10.23
1999 – 2000 9.82 8.40 10.25
2000 – 2001 9.23 8.52 9.90
2001 – 2002 9.85 8.62 10.26
2002 – 2003 9.58 8.01 10.25
2003 – 2004 9.24 7.55 9.98
2004 – 2005 8.96 7.06 9.58
2005 – 2006 8.12 7.41 8.99
2006 – 2007 8.36 6.74 8.40
2007 – 2008 8.18 6.16 8.52
2008 – 2009* 8.60 6.71 9.28
Y/Y % Change 5.15% 8.95% 8.85%
Y/Y # Change 0.421 0.551 0.754

*2008-9 season data is through 2/8/09, all other seasons are Sept-Sept.

historical-evening-news

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.





Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.

Comments