NBC News president Steve Capus takes issue with those that claim that evening news broadcasts are dead. In an interview with TV Newser, Capus said that those pronouncements come from ignorant people “and I think that Nightly News is a broadcast that will always and should always have a home on the network.”
“It performs a vital service to the country…[The ratings] demonstrate that the audience still has very high expectations of us.”
Capus can afford to be so bold as the network’s nightly news consistently beats its broadcast rivals and, thanks to their Egyptian coverage, achieved their highest ratings in six years for the week ending January 31 with over 11 million viewers.
To claim the news performs a vital service is more puffery than substance. If what they do is so vital, then why have they lost a large swath of viewers to cable news over the last decade? The fact is, the news division has been an important source of profits for a long time at NBC. In 2009, the New York Times estimated that the division accounted for 13 percent of the network’s entire profits, or roughly $400 million at a time when the economy was in the tank. So what Capus really meant is that the Nightly News is vital to parent company Comcast’s profits, and not so much to the country as a whole. Frankly I don’t know too many people who would miss Brian Williams and company if they faded away.