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The Surprising (Week #1) Success of the New Early Show Team

TODAY CONTINUES HOT STREAK — AT 60,

EARLY FINDS GLIMMER OF HOPE — AT 50.

Friday marked the beginning of the 60th year of the Today Show and  they have more to celebrate than anyone in network news. It’s a great show and a successful one.  I’ve estimated the show has made well over a billion dollars for NBC since 1994/5, when they first overtook Good Morning America in the middle of the O.J. Simpson case.

My pal and former competitor, Jim Bell, has done a great job keeping the show in first place as, in tv, all good runs usually come to an end… except, it seems,  for the Today Show.

Very happy new year for the new team at Early.

AN ODD MILESTONE

At the other end of the spectrum, The Early Show  (and its ‘earlier’ incarnations) has been in third place for all of  their 50 years, not a very happy golden anniversary over at CBS, for sure.

But the first indicator of viewer interest surrounding the new anchor team is at least a reason for hope: the Nielsens. Take a look at the change in the demo  year to year!

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: JANUARY 3rd (A25-54)

Early + 20,000   Today -150,000 GMA  -300,000.

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****UPDATED 12/28/10 PAINT BY NUMBERS: AN EVENING NEWS SHOCKER

Couric Squeezes the Gap with Sawyer to 150,000 Viewers — Narrowest of  Season — 66% Smaller than Last Year

Christmas Colors in Red and Green

note from your friendly blogarist: “Paint by Numbers” will be an occasional, yet regular,  feature of daily Xpress meant to reach behind the press releases for a more accurate picture of the state of broadcast news than reported elswhere.

Can you call a 150,000-viewer gap between ABCs World News with Diane Sawyer and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric anything other than "striking distance?"

Note to Les Moonves: Objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear.

As you sit down to re-negotiate Katie Couric’s $15M salary and future at CBS News, and you should amidst your continuing lay-offs, you might want to take a closer look at her A25-54 numbers this year compared to last year.

Katie Couric has narrowed the gap with Diane Sawyer on 12 out of the 14 weeks of this season. (One week showed the same gap as last year).

I just want to make sure you have our Paint By Numbers kit. TVNewser seems to have ignored this accomplishment which is somewhat  surprising given their warm relationship with her executive producer. Oh well, maybe they’ll write something about it next week, in a round up of the quarter. (Oops, they missed it again. Might they be holding back to hang on to some negotiating leverage?)

Bloomberg News, in reporting on your preliminary talks for her new contract, noted this last week:  “Both sides recognize Couric’s salary must be reduced for her to remain at CBS, one of the people said. This season, the “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” is averaging 5.73 million viewers a night, according to Nielsen Co. data, behind NBC and ABC, and down 24 percent from when she took over in 2006.”

Yikes, the  continuing obsession TV writers have with total viewership is…. meaningless.   Does that matter in the real business world?   Not one bit.

As you know, “total” viewers don’t add one single dollar to the financial health of a news division.  Doesn’t it make you want to scream “It’s the demo, stupid,”  because that’s what they should  be tracking for Katie in the coming weeks.

THIS JUST IN: KATIE HAS A VERY MERRY XMAS WEEK

For the week of December 13, Katie Couric quietly narrowed the demo gap with Diane Sawyer from 500 000 to 450,000 year to year.  *** And this just in for the week of December 20.  Katie Couric squeezed the demo gap down to just 150,000, narrowing that gap a whopping 66% over the same week in 2009 (440,000). The CBS demo delivery of 1,980,000 viewers was actually  the second highest of the season, only topped by Thanksgiving week which only included two days (Monday and Tuesday.)

The week of Christmas only included four days, excluding Friday (generally the lowest rated day of the week for the evening newscasts.) This year, as last year, Diane Sawyer took off for her birthday  (December 22) and the day after.  David Muir substituted.

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note from your friendly blogarist: “Paint by Numbers” will be an occasional, yet regular,  feature of daily Xpress meant to reach behind the press releases for a more accurate picture of the state of broadcast news than reported by MSM and industry websites.

KEEPING THEM HONEST

The inaugural column of  Paint by Numbers looks at this week’s entry from “TV Newser” reporting the current state of competition amongst the morning shows.  Here’s our first tutorial: the story re-posted here is based on a press release which addresses Nielsen’s tally of  total viewers, a common public relations ploy.  Those who understand the business of the news business know the only viewership that matters, the viewership which determines profitability and stability,  is adults 25-54, more commonly called the demo.

The Today Show winning streak is not challenged.  But the fight for #2 and #3 may not quite look the same in the Paint by Numbers that follows the TVNewser take:

Morning Show Ratings: Week of Dec.6

By Molly Stark Dean on December 16, 2010 2:20 PM

The “Today” show was still on top last week — another week closer to a 16-year streak.

“Today” topped #2 “Good Morning America,” but GMA cut the total viewing gap with NBC’s “Today” by -10% week-to-week and -20% year-to-year. Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos was in Afghanistan Monday, and off Tuesday.

“GMA” increased its total viewership by 2% week-to-week.

CBS’ “The Early Show” increased by 7K from week-to-week.

The averages for the week of December 6:

Total Viewers: NBC: 5.65M / ABC: 4.68M / CBS: 3.09M

A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.68M / ABC: 1.75M / CBS: 1.28M

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