USA Today Kicks Katie Couric When She’s Down

October 23rd, 2006 9:27 AM

Boy, it didn’t take long for Katie Couric to go from media darling to whipping girl, did it? You’d think the perky one did something really obscene, like stating that she was voting for a Republican in the upcoming midterm elections. Yet, there it was in large type at USA Today: “Couric Fails to Keep CBS News on Top for Long” (hat tip to TVNewser). In reality, that might be the kindest statement in this article about Couric which began (emphasis mine throughout):

When Katie Couric began anchoring The CBS Evening News early last month, her initial ratings were so strong — she drew more than 10 million viewers — that it appeared the former NBC Today star might buck network news tradition, catapult the third-place newscast into first place and keep it there.

But in seven weeks, talk that CBS News' $15-million-a-year anchor would be crowned the instant queen of the evening news has all but evaporated.

The seeming obituary continued:

Initial viewer curiosity in Couric has worn off, a sign that popularity in the morning does not guarantee success at night. News has dropped from first to third place behind NBC Nightly News and ABC World News. Rival producers are talking much more confidently than they were last month.

Couric now faces a long slog to win fans, a traditional challenge for anchors at CBS and its rivals, network news experts and CBS executives say.

As did the post-mortems:

"CBS took the risk that a lot of people would tune in, there'd be a big curiosity factor and a lot of them would stick around," Rosenstiel says. "That hasn't happened. They've run some long passes, some breakout plays, and they haven't fully connected."

Katie’s competition couldn’t be happier:

At NBC Nightly News, producer John Reiss says researchers predicted that Couric would draw curious viewers away from Nightly initially but that within a short period, "they would come back to us. I never want to declare 'game over,' but I like the trend lines. I like the way things are going."

At ABC World News, Gibson has been concentrating on putting his stamp on the broadcast he inherited in May, says producer Jon Banner. "He's much more comfortable on the broadcast than when he started," says Banner. "Obviously, some of the extreme sampling (of Couric) has slowed down, but I have a feeling this needs to play out for a longer time."

Extreme sampling of Couric has slowed down? Maybe this means that folks can only tolerate this much sugar with their coffee in the morning.