Katie Couric's Ratings Comeback? - The News Junkie
The News Junkie: Katie Couric's Ratings Comeback?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Katie Couric's Ratings Comeback?

From 4.5 Million To 6.4 Million Viewers In Just Six Months:



Granted, it's a slow crawl back from the depths but it's a crawl none the less. Six months ago the entire media world was predicting a prompt replacement of Katie Couric. I remember watching her broadcasts go downhill as she tried to shoehorn long interview pieces into 'Evening News.' It was her attempt to step out of the haunted shadows of her predecessor Dan Rather and it failed miserably.

I watch all three evening newscasts, simultaneously. I watch, on any given night, as all three broadcast news heavyweights lead with the same predictable story. I watch as piece after piece, anything from medical research stories to water cooler topics, is mirrored on all three networks with few exceptions. Brian Williams is your friend next door, Charlie Gibson is your well-informed grandfather and Katie Couric is... well Katie's different. She doesn't fit the mold. Her delivery is awkward and her interview skills are lackluster. Her producers, however, have found a way to finally make some ratings gains... Timing. More specifically, commercial block timing.



NBC doesn't take their first commercial break until about :47 after the hour. That's a lead-off segment that is only surpassed by ABC who doesn't take that break until closer to :49 after. Couric and CBS take their first break much earlier, around :44 after. Why would they shorten their first segment so drastically? In an attempt to grab viewers who channel surf as the other two newscasts take their first commercial breaks. This strategy seems to be working.

In just six short months Couric has gained nearly 2 million viewers. CBS News is still in third place by a wide margin (about 1.8 million viewers) but, if this rate of growth continues, she could close that gap in another six months. To be fair, the competition has seen some decent gains as well but not as large as Katie's. CBS obviously had more ground to gain after hitting rock bottom in September with only 4.5 million viewers but that doesn't make this unimpressive.

The critics were loud and plentiful after Katie's initial ratings bounce faded, and the bottom fell out at CBS News, but they are silent and nonexistent in penning her slow assent. Alright, so she's not the 'ratings juggernaut' they once hoped she would be but she's sticking it out and making some gains. Who knows, maybe 6 months from now Williams and Gibson will be in her rear-view mirror?

3 comments:

hammer111 said...

Interesting observations re Katie and the evening news. I like Katie a lot, but I did feel she had gotten stale and become a caricature of herself on Today. I also don't care for her in the evening news format, especially the supposed pandering to a younger demographic, and the plagarism thing about the library card was really sad. I do think she could be good as part of the 60 minutes team, or doing domething along the lines of Dateline. I think her interviewing skills are very good, although sometimes she comes off as patronizing.

The thing with the evening news, is she is just introducing segments for the most part, and like you indicate, all of the evening news broadcasts are sort of becoming obselete...and if you don't channel surf, those constant ads for erectile disfunction pills, cholestorel pills, peeing too often fpills, etc. are excruciating after a while.

It seems the future of traditional evening news broadcasts will sooner or later go the way of the dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

I don't really like Katie...but great observation. Do you really think this will pull her out of the ratings slump? Not too many people will catch on to the timing, in the end it will come down to the reporting and who people favor.

Editor: Shawn Wasson said...

No telling if she can actually ride this to successland yet. The odd thing is, her detractors are mum in talking about her slow climb upwards.