‘CBS Evening News’ Gains Ground

Dec 13, 2005  •  Post A Comment

“CBS Evening News With Bob Schieffer” is on the grow, gaining more than 970,000 viewers in the past year, according to Nielsen Media Research data for the week of Dec. 5-9, while its competitors in the race among flagship newscasts posted viewership losses year to year.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Mr. Schieffer, who has continued to moderate CBS News’ “Face the Nation” since he took the “Evening” anchor chair on a lengthening interim assignment when Dan Rather stepped down a year early in March.

He said feedback from viewers indicates that some of the increase is due to lapsed viewers who have returned and some to new viewers.

He credits the fact that “Evening News” reporters are talking more and memorizing less. “We are reporting the newscast, I hope, in language people can understand. I think that helps in our credibility,” the anchor said, quickly stressing that his comment was not a reflection of anything or anyone who preceded his involvement in “Evening News.”

Mr. Schieffer reiterated his comments, published Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, in praise of the journalistic heft of “Today” co-host Katie Couric, who is presumably weighing a big-bucks offer for her to move to CBS and anchor “Evening News.”

“I hope we can get her,” Mr. Schieffer said. “She’s a great interviewer, people know who she is and she has enormous credibility.”

“And I believe that,” Mr. Schieffer said Tuesday.

However, he said, “Maybe we’ll get Katie and maybe we won’t.” Either way, he said, “We have spent the last five years just sort of standing still” and new CBS News President Sean McManus “is determined to move this organization. He is trying to identify the people inside and the people outside this news organization that can make this a first-class team.”

The growth of “Evening News” brought the longtime third-place newscast to within 1.15 million viewers of second-place “ABC World News Tonight,” which was down 60,000 viewers from the comparable week in 2004.

“NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” was down 30,000 viewers from the comparable week in 2004 — a big week in which Tom Brokaw passed the baton to Mr. Williams — but enjoyed a lead of nearly 1.10 million viewers over “World News.”

In the demographic regarded as the core news audience, viewers 25 to 54 years old, “Nightly” was up 4 percent while “World News” and “Evening News” were up 9 percent.

In total viewers for the week, “Nightly” averaged 10.51 million viewers, “World News” averaged 9.42 million, and “Evening News” averaged 8.27 million viewers.

For the season to date, “Nightly” has shown year-to-year decreases for the past 11 consecutive weeks and “World News” has shown decreases the past nine consecutive weeks.

“Evening News” has shown year-to-year increases in the past seven consecutive weeks, and nine of the 12 weeks this season.