All eyes will be on Katie Couric when she helms her first CBS Evening News broadcast on Sept. 5.
As the first permanent solo female anchor of a U.S. network evening newscast (say that five-times fast), Couric will come out a winner even if she only holds the numbers steady. Of course, expectations are much higher than that and, barring any unforeseen disasters, Couric is likely to live up to a lot of them.
While the U.S. newscast ratings change at a glacial pace — the last major move was in 1996, when Tom Brokaw’s NBC Nightly News took over the top spot from the late Peter Jennings’ ABC World News Tonight — ABC’s broadcast has fallen by nine percent since Charles Gibson took over, while CBS has gained four per cent with popular fill-in anchor Bob Schieffer.
A gap of a little over a million viewers separates all three broadcasts (NBC: 8.8 million; ABC: 8 million; CBS: 7.3 million) and even a small audience gain shifts the dynamics dramatically.
Considering all the buzz surrounding CBS’ Couric, the newscast ratings war is going to get very interesting come fall.