September 21, 2010

Big 3 Nets’ Evening News Audience Fails to Break 20 Million in Mid-September

Big3NewsLogosThey’re out of excuses.

Summer’s over. It’s after Labor Day. The kids are back in school. People are back into their routines. The trouble for the Big 3 broadcast networks is that those routines don’t include watching their early-evening newscasts.

Beyond that, last week was a pivotal week in Campaign 2010, with key primaries in New York, Delaware, New Hampshire, and several other states. As far as I can tell, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Katie Couric were firmly ensconced in their anchor chairs all week long.

With all that, the Big 3 Nets’ audience for the week was less than 20 million, almost 5% lower than the same week a year ago, when there were no key election races. The Big 3 are not recovering from what was an awful summer.

Here are the numbers (source: Media Bistro — Week of Sept. 13, 2010; week of Sept. 14, 2010):


NBC and ABC both took huge hits in the 25-54 demographic groups, while CBS picked up a bit.

If they expected their all-O’Donnell-bashing all-the-time strategy to translate into additional evening news viewers, early returns would seem to indicate that it’s not working out too well.

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: From the “Couldn’t Happen to a More Deserving Bunch” Dept. — Here’s how it’s been during the last 30 years:


Mentally incorporate 2010′s results, and it’s clear that the slide is continuing.

The audience has shrunk by over 60%. The country’s population has grown by about 37% (83 million higher than 1980′s 226 million). Their “market penetration” in a given week has gone from 23% (52 million out of 226 million) to 6.5% (20 million out of 309 million), a drop of 72% (16.5 points divided by 23).

How sweet it is. And look at the precious resources they’re wasting on anchor “talent.”


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