Viewer drop-off is natural. It happens on just about every TV show, save for competition and awards shows where the audience builds.
Here’s an audience retention stat we found interesting: In the first 10 minutes of his first Face the Nation as host, John Dickerson lost 855,000 viewers: from 4.143 million at the start of the show to 3.288 million by minute 10. And it came on a day when one of the other Sunday shows, Meet the Press, was pre-empted due to the French Open.
Face the Nation has always had the benefit of having a steller lead-in of CBS Sunday Morning, which, last Sunday, averaged a whopping 5.46 million viewers. According to Nielsen data, for the 2015 year-to-date average Bob Schieffer was losing 900,000 viewers after the first 10 minutes. By comparison, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos loses 104,000 viewers in the fist 10 minutes while Meet the Press with Chuck Todd loses 139,000 viewers.
For Face the Nation, the challenge will be to hold on to as much of its lead-in audience, compete with established Sunday shows (and newcomers Jake Tapper and Maria Bartiromo) and do it all with a new host. Dickerson is going to have a tough go gaining the trust of viewers who have seen Bob Schieffer in the chair for the last 24 years. He knows this and CBS knows this. And it starts with holding the audience.