Cable News Gain Is Evening News Pain

By Chris Ariens 

While the cable news nets benefited greatly from the presidential campaign season, the LATimes’ Matea Gold reveals the evening newscasts didn’t.

…the overall number of people watching the network evening newscasts actually shrank slightly in the last months of the presidential campaign, despite the programs’ heavy political focus — down 280,000 viewers since Sept. 22 compared with the same period last year…Of the three programs, the top-rated “NBC Nightly News” was the only one to register an uptick in audience, growing 1% to 8.37 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” fell 2% to 8.2 million viewers while “CBS Evening News” dropped 3% to 6.1 million viewers.

CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus tells Gold, “I don’t have an explanation. I think we did a really, really good job, and I would be lying if I didn’t say the ratings were disappointing.”

World News EP Jon Banner has an explanation: “The fact that, given the competitive environment, we’re holding our audience over last year is significant. I don’t think we get the big bumps that you’ve seen in some other media, but we don’t get some of the big drops they’re getting now.”

But at the end of the day, this drop-off is not new. Gold writes, “It’s been a chronic issue as American lifestyles have changed. Since 1991, the combined audience of the three broadcasts has dropped from 36.7 million to 22.7 million.”