Katie Couric’s Prime Time Newscast: Second in Total Viewers, Fifth in Demos

By Chris Ariens 

According to the overnight ratings, Katie Couric’s 8pm newscast drew 6.45 million Total Viewers, good enough for second place in the time slot. The half hour came in fifth in younger viewers (A18-49 & A25-54) and the Total Viewership was less than what Couric has been averaging at her normal time — 7.22M over the last six weeks. Interestingly, there was a drop-off in viewers at 8:30, when a rerun of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” aired.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Tom Shales chatted with Couric yesterday as she prepped for her newscasts. Couric talked about how she handled the now-fading drumbeat that signaled an imminent departure from the Evening News.

“I’ve always been a pretty happy person, but there have been days when it’s been somewhat discouraging to me professionally. I just put on blinders and do my job and try not to let it bother me. I always feel that quality wins out in the end.”

Shales writes, “Couric has a warmer, more benevolent presence than her two competitors; she brought to the program nearly 16 years of goodwill from doing ‘Today’ and becoming America’s sweetheart, or very close to it. And that goodwill is still there.”

But, was it a cosmetic change that has led to a rise in the ratings?

“Yes, I think it’s all because of my short hair,” Couric tells Shales. (She debuted the look Dec. 1.) “Actually, I think Charlie Gibson is parting his a little differently — but nobody seems to notice.”

Shales also writes about “a problem that has plagued her from the start: She sometimes stumbles over words when reading them off the prompting device. A Couric admirer concedes it’s not something she does well but that reading off a prompter has nothing to do with journalism. At the same time, it’s a basic requirement for the job; there are nights, says one insider, ‘when that’s really all an anchor does.'”