CBS's Scott Pelley: Fox News Only Has 200,000 to 300,000 Viewers

A key to success in business is knowing your competition.

CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley apparently doesn't subscribe to this doctrine, for in an interview with Deadline Hollywood published Saturday, Pelley claimed that Fox News only has 200,000 to 300,000 viewers:

DEADLINE: So for you, other outlets especially the cable news networks do center on just one segment of the political spectrum in their reporting?
PELLEY: Certainly. It’s no surprise. Fox is associated with the right and MSNBC is associated with the left and they’ve done that because it is a business model. It’s a strategy. They’ve decided to bite off one small part of the viewership and be happy with that 200,000 viewers, 300,000 viewers that they have. But when you are talking to 7 million viewers across the country, man you have got to represent everybody’s views and have got to give them the impression that you are being as honest as you know how to be.

DEADLINE: While the news flow on cable may be in the hundreds of thousands, a lot of people are watching Bill O’Reilly, a couple of million a night. Same thing with Hannity.
PELLEY: We measure our audience in millions. They’re not big numbers. People talk about cable a lot and cable has a very high profile. Not a lot of people watch cable news, they just don’t. If you look at the Nielsen numbers, the cable channels have a few hundred thousand viewers at any given moment. The CBS Evening News again has 7 million viewers, ABC has 8 million viewers. Brian [NBC's Williams] has almost 9 million. Altogether we have about 25 million viewers on any given night. That’s a very different order of magnitude.


Pelley's knowledge of his own industry is shockingly low.

According to TV Newser, Fox averaged 1.5 million viewers per hour last Monday, and 2.15 million in primetime.

The O'Reilly Factor had 3 million viewers, The Five had 2.2 million as did Special Report.

As such, speaking of "order of magnitude," Pelley was wrong by a factor of ten.

Pelley was also wrong about his own ratings and those of his broadcast competitors.

As TV Newser reported, the Evening News averaged 5.7 million viewers the week of June 3, ABC World News had 7 million and NBC Nightly News had 7.5 million.

It's been years since any of these programs garnered 9 million viewers and they attracted a combined 25 million.

CBS should be so proud of how well-informed their Evening News host is about his own industry.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.