Palin Effect on Ratings Only Modest for CBS
"The Dan Rather type BDS/PDS Syndrome Hurts Perky/Nasty Couric"s Ratings !"
Katie Couric’s newsmaking interviews with the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, last week had only a slight impact on the ratings for her CBS newscast. But if the network could have added up all the other viewers the interviews (and its spoof) racked up, on places like CNN, YouTube and “Saturday Night Live,” Ms. Couric would surely have been more seen and talked about than in any week since she began her tenure as anchor.
Ms. Couric received a rush of attention for the two interviews, in which Ms. Palin, governor of Alaska, spoke haltingly on, among other topics, her state’s “narrow maritime border” with Russia. Clips turned up across the spectrum of television and Web sites.
Still, the “CBS Evening News” gained only about 10 percent in audience from the previous week — and it was actually down from the same week the year before. The newscast averaged just under 6 million viewers for the week, up from 5.44 million the previous week. A year ago Ms. Couric’s program drew about 6.2 million viewers. (CBS was also a distant third last week behind ABC, which won with 8.07 million viewers, and NBC, with 7.98 million.)
Ms. Couric has more material to come with Ms. Palin. Continuing a series begun during the primary season in which Ms. Couric poses the same questions to each candidate, the program will have questions for Ms. Palin and her vice presidential opponent, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Mr. McManus noted that despite the harsh reviews Ms. Palin has been getting for the interviews with Ms. Couric, no one in the McCain campaign had registered complaints with CBS.
The newscast has made more of an effort to work interviews into the daily content, Mr. McManus said. Monday’s program included not only another interview involving Ms. Couric and both candidates on the Republican ticket, but also interviews with Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders about the failed vote on the Wall Street bailout package.
Ms. Couric has been battered for most of her tenure at CBS News over the sagging ratings of the newscast, and some discussions had been held at CBS earlier this year about her future at the network. Mr. McManus said the network and Ms. Couric were moving past all that.
“I’ve been saying for some time that what we need to concentrate on is the content, not the ratings,” he said. Asked whether the Palin interviews might be a chance to change the ratings momentum of the newscast, he said: “I hope so. We’ll see.”