Big 3 Nets' Evening News: It's Summertime, and the Viewers Are Leaving

June 24th, 2009 12:27 AM

Media Bistro broke it Tuesday morning, and gave us all of the details shortly after noon. The news: CBS and ABC's evening newscasts both came in with record low viewerships during the week of June 15.

ABC's fall to less than 6.5 million total viewers is probably more of a surprise than CBS's plunge below 5 million. Is there a health care propaganda backlash?

But the biggest news, as usual, is the combined audience drop, this time to barely 19 million. As usual, Media Bistro didn't note that.

Here's a chart comparing the overall and 25-54 demographic audiences during the week of June 15, 2009 to those of the previous week, January 26, 2009 (a combined high-water mark during the first week after Barack Obama's inauguration) and June 16, 2008:


Media Bistro charitably notes that Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric were on vacation, and that the transition to digital TV may have been a factor. The digital TV claim actually makes a bit of sense, because the previous week-over-week percentage drops in the 25-54 demo have usually been larger than the overall audience declines. This time, the overall drop was larger than the 25-54 demo drop. But if some older folks have lost the use of their TVs, how sure can anyone be as to the percentage that are going to come back? The next few weeks will determine whether the two excuses just named are valid.

CBS's fall may be a bit of a milestone, in that its June 15 weekly average audience was less than the 8 PM combined cable news channel audiences of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and CNN Headline on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that same week. That may very well be a first-time-ever occurrence.

There are plenty more hazy, lazy, crazy weeks of summer remaining. All-praise-Dear-Leader, all-the-time doesn't seem to be working out very well at the Big 3 Networks.

Cross-posted at