NBC News’ major franchises are losing ground to rivals, with the network’s news division appearing "adrift" for the first time in more than a decade, report Bill Carter and Brian Stelter in The New York Times.
The most visible problem is "Today," with the morning show planning to replace Ann Curry after seeing a 16-year winning streak come to an end earlier this year, the piece notes. But other major news shows, including "NBC Nightly News" and "Meet the Press," have also slipped, with the former down 11% in the key news demo of viewers 25 to 54.
The lead enjoyed by "Meet the Press" has shrunk to 2% in total viewers over its second-place rival, CBS’s "Face the Nation," while the CBS program now draws more viewers in the 25-54 age group, the piece notes.
"Rock Center," hosted by the network’s chief anchor, Brian Williams, hasn’t drawn strong prime-time ratings, but NBC News is committed to the program, according to the report.
"The weaknesses across the news division probably would be considered marginal if they did not come at the same time as the apparent shift taking place in the morning. That change is under particular scrutiny because of the ‘Today’ show’s status as the most profitable franchise in the history of television news," Carter and Stelter write.
Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, argued that the shows are performing well given the weak performance of NBC’s prime-time schedule. "This is a great news division, and still the industry leader," he said.
Capus added that the network is still receiving a premium for "Today," despite the ratings loss, although he didn’t quantify it, according to the story.
Despite speculation about the future of his job, Capus received an endorsement this week from the network, in the form of a new long-term deal to continue as NBC News’ top executive, the story says. Capus declined to comment on the deal.