May 20, 2009

Big 3 Nets’ Evening Newscast Audiences Continue Historic Current-Year and Long-Term Slides

NBCABCCBSchartGraphicEach of the Big 3 networks’ evening news broadcasts is pulling an historically low audience, or close to it — and it isn’t even summertime yet.

While they continue to pretend that Obamamania is as alive and well as it allegedly was in January, they have seen 25% of their viewers go elsewhere, including one-third of the 25-54 demographic.

Year over year, they’re down a collective 6% overall, and a stunning 10% in the 25-54 demo, which now consists of less than 6 million pairs of eyes. Test patterns might be able to outperform that.

Here is the latest chart showing the post-Jan. 26 skids:


Almost three years ago, in July 2006, Drudge headlined “TV’s Lowest Week,” which linked to a wire story about how network TV in general, including the evening news shows, had just endured their worst week for total audience since the boob tube became widely used in households. That wire story said that:

“World News Tonight” averaged 7.3 million viewers and “Nightly News” had 7.2 million (both 5.1 rating, 11 share). The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 10).

As you can see above, the combined audience for the week of May 11, 2009 was over a half-million lower that early July 2006′s 21 million (7.3 + 7.2 +6.5).

And as I said, it isn’t even summertime yet.

ABC, at 7.14 million is already lower than it was during the summer of 2006. I guess that selectively edited Charles Gibson hatchet job on Sarah Palin didn’t have any long-term effect. Sorry, Charlie.

This will never happen, but if the nets continue to lose evening news audience at the same rate as they have since January 26, no one will be watching them by next March or April. Sadly, we won’t be that lucky.

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: A BizzyBlog flashback from July 2005 explains why Brian, Charlie, and Katie will stay in front of their mics until the repo guys take them away (slightly revised from original) –

The business point here is that there is nothing that will put a stop to this nonsense on the horizon:

  • The audience for the Big Three network nightly news shows continues to decline.
  • The decline is steepest among the most desirable demographic groups.
  • All three nightly broadcasts most likely lose money, when isolated from their morning counterparts (Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show) and their documentary shows (Dateline, 60 Minutes, 20/20, etc.). At a minimum, none makes an acceptable level of profit.
  • The news operations of each of the Big 3 networks are very small parts of very large organizations (CBS, NBC-GE, and ABC-Disney), so small that apparently no one at any of the three parent companies cares enough to do anything about the continued hemorrhaging in the nightly new shows, as long as the news operations themselves are profitable.
  • So because those other parts of the news operations make money, the nightly news programs can chug right along, oblivous to normal profitability expectations.
  • The journalists who put together the nightly news programs could care less if the broadcasts are profitable. It’s obvious that their agenda is more important.
  • Because of all of the above, the ever-shrinking audience for these broadcasts can expect to be spoon-fed biased reporting, Bush bashing, and conservative-bashing for the foreseeable future.


  1. Maybe at the next Republican Club meeting, we should all sit around and talk about what the national news media needs to change in order to become relevant again.

    Comment by Michael — May 20, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  2. #1, I would suggest that the agenda should be how to put them out of business more quickly.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 20, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  3. Of course. I was being facetious because the network news types are full of fake concern for the future of the GOP when it seems as if their own house is not exactly in order.

    Comment by Michael — May 21, 2009 @ 9:29 am

  4. Maybe Katie Couric should flash a little skin once in a while. Oh yeah, then she wouldn’t be a serious journo, would she?

    Comment by Mike Kelley — May 21, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

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