Ratings Fall on Newscasts at 2 Networks
By BILL CARTER
Published: April 1, 2010
With buyouts and layoffs in progress, the mood at ABC News cannot be good. It was probably not enhanced by the ratings report for the first quarter of the year showing that the network's evening newscast, "World News," had sunk to the lowest numbers the program has had in a first quarter since the People Meter was introduced by Nielsen in 1987.
The same situation prevailed at CBS, where the "Evening News" also hit a new low for the months of January through March.
The beneficiary was NBC, where "Nightly News" scored its best first-quarter numbers since 2005.
Over all, the numbers were: 9.92 million viewers for NBC; 8.27 million for ABC and 6.45 million for CBS.
Is this a signal that viewers are abandoning network newscasts in droves?
Not really. The number of viewers still watching the three shows together — more than 24 million in the first quarter — continue to dwarf any news program on cable.
Transitions often result in some audience defections. ABC's morning show, "Good Morning America," was also down in the first quarter by about 4 percent in viewers and by a more sizable 12 percent among the news audience that advertisers seek, those 25 to 54 years old.
The show is also in transition to George Stephanopoulos as the chief anchor from Ms. Sawyer.
ABC News executives also say that the first quarter contained some especially favorable weeks for NBC News because that network was covering the Winter Olympics. NBC's "Today" show was devoted almost completely to the Olympics for more than two weeks in February and the "Nightly News" took advantage of the network's association with the Olympics as well.