Friday, July 1, 2011

Network Evening News Ratings Gain

Recently released ratings showed that all three major network evening news broadcasts showed increased viewing in the second quarter of 2011, the first collective year-to-year increase in the last decade.
  • ABC World News had its biggest audience since 2008, averaging 7.6 million viewers (up 9%)
  • CBS Evening News was up 8% from the same period last year, averaging 5.6 million viewers
  • NBC Nightly News had its best ratings in five years, averaging 8.5 million viewers (up 11%).
Analysts attributed much of the gain to a "particularly newsy second quarter with the Royal Wedding, the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan, and the killing of bin Laden."  The anchor change at CBS from Katie Couric to Scott Pelley also helped; In his first three weeks as anchor, CBS Evening News added a quarter of a million new viewers.

Before network news fans get too giddy, these are still anemic levels - the 21 million combined viewers for broadcast network evening news is roughly 7% of all Americans.

Further, while still significantly higher than ratings for cable news channels and programs, that gap continues to shrink.  Average primetime ratings for the second quarter showed Fox News leading (averaging 1.8 million viewers), with MSNBC (averaging 780,000), CNN (averaging 680,000), and CNN Headline (averaging 540,000) trailing far behind.  If you look at each cable news network's top program, the comparison with the broadcast network evening news programs get a bit better, although still acheiving nowhere near the same audience levels.
  • Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor averaged over 2.8 million viewers (half that of the lowest rated broadcast evening news program).  The show's repeat for the west coast attracted 1.25 million viewers.  Fox News had the top 12 cable news programs.
  • MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show averaged slightly more than 1 million viewers
  • CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 averaged 841,000 viewers

Sources: "First Time in 10 Years: Three Evening Newscasts Up in Ratings," Hollywood Reporter
"Cable Program and Network Rankers: Q2 2011," TV Newser

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