Couric Not Likely To Draw New Ad Money

Apr 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A “CBS Evening News” telecast anchored by the popular Katie Couric likely will not differ enough from the stuffy old anchor model to bring in new advertising money from products aimed at younger viewers, ad buyers said last week.

Unless the “Evening News” attracts a significantly different viewership composition, the mix of advertisers and how much they pay won’t change significantly.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s going to interject the daypart with new money, because I still think it’s a targeting issue and I still believe that the nightly news in its current state still attracts a certain demographic that tends to be older, tends to be maybe slightly upscale,” said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, senior VP and director of Starcom Entertainment.

“It’s probably not the same news as if Jon Stewart decided to anchor the ‘CBS Evening News.’ That actually might mix up and change the audience composition of that news,” Ms. Caraccioli-Davis said. “They might time-shift it, but that might change the dynamics.”

A CBS spokesman wouldn’t say how the new “Evening News” would be pitched to advertisers. “It’s too soon for anyone-especially outsiders with a specific economic interest in the matter-to characterize the prospects of this new broadcast,” the spokesman said. “For our part, we couldn’t be happier.”

The spokesman added that shortly after the hiring of Ms. Couric was announced, the network received calls from clients that didn’t otherwise spend in the evening news that were interested in doing so on Katie’s arrival.

Over time, Ms. Couric could attract different viewers to the newscast, Ms. Caraccioli said.

“The thing about Katie that’s intriguing is that historically all the male news anchors weren’t necessarily brands, and Katie is a brand. So there’s something that’s very much dynamic about her, engaging about her,” she said. “Obviously, they’re going to promote the hell out of it. They’re going to eventize the first night at the desk. It will be a big story and there will be initial tune-in.”

Reinvent the Newscast

Ms. Caraccioli-Davis said CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves has said he wants to reinvent the evening newscast format. “Katie is maybe his first step in that rebuilding process,” she said. “Maybe it’s a broadband feed and they’re going to cume that audience and you’re going to be able to get her daily online, or they’re going to push it back and air it in a different daypart. That would be interesting news. So I think how they use Katie and extend Katie, that might be an opportunity to bring in more advertisers and therefore more revenue to the daypart.”

She did not think the likelihood that publicity about Ms. Couric’s first broadcasts will bring in curious viewers will be enough to entice advertisers to pay higher prices.

“I don’t think it will have that kind of effect on that daypart,” she said. “Between now and September, during the whole upfront process, usually when you’re talking to a client your focus is always on prime time because there’s so many changes in prime time. I think now between the nightly news daypart and also early morning with [ABC News’] Charlie [Gibson] and [Ms. Couric’s replacement on ‘Today’] Meredith [Vieira], there will be changes in that daypart as well. We’ll be having more conversations with our clients and so it will be on their radar, and it won’t be status quo and keep your dollars flat.”

“The advertisers that traditionally buy the nightly news, I think they’re going to be happier advertisers because it’s Katie Couric. She’s warm, she’s sympathetic, she’ll handle the news in a similar fashion like an Anderson Cooper, who’s kind of interjected humanity into the delivering of the news instead of a straight delivery.”