From NY Post: Norah O’Donnell’s debut as the new “CBS Evening News” anchor drew much media fanfare but not so many viewers.
The former co-host of “CBS This Morning” came in last place among evening shows on Monday despite a much-publicized premiere that included a sit-down with Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world.
O’Donnell not only trailed “ABC’s World News Tonight” and “NBC Nightly News,” she also failed to best the ratings of her predecessor, Jeff Glor, who hosted “CBS Evening News” for a year and a half.
CBS rolled out the red carpet for O’Donnell when it announced her new role in May — the same day she was set to receive a high-profile media award from her now former “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King.
It then heavily promoted her first show, which boasted an interview with Bezos about his space venture Blue Origin to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. King, too, gave the show a shout-out on Twitter.
Despite all the buzz, Monday night’s broadcast slipped compared to the same night a year earlier, as well as for the show’s average audience so this year, ratings agency Nielsen said.
O’Donnell garnered a total audience of 5.6 million viewers, down 1% from the same night in 2018 when Glor drew 5.7 million viewers. Her broadcast slid 6% compared with the 2019-to-date average of nearly 6 million.
CBS insiders attributed some of the decline to the revolving door of anchors on the nightly news show since O’Donnell’s predecessor, Glor, left in May when she was named as his replacement.
In the important 25- to 54-year-old demographic, O’Donnell drew 929,000 viewers versus 1.22 million, a year ago when the show was hosted by Glor. That translated to the newscast being down 24% in the demo versus the year-to-date average.
According to data provided by CBS, the network lost fewer viewers on Monday than the competition, suggesting its decline could be slowing. O’Donnell’s Monday broadcast was down 1 percent, compared with NBC’s second place showing which fell 10%, and ABC’s first place showing which fell 4% for the same Monday a year ago. Also, CBS was up 2% in total viewers while NBC was down 6% and ABC was down 7% versus the prior four Mondays.
All eyes are on the division, which got a hefty anchor shake up by CBS News president Susan Zirinsky in May, including moves that gave King a bigger role on the morning program. Zirinsky has heralded her moves, including O’Donnell’s promotion, as central to the network’s female-friendly next chapter following a string of sexual harassment scandals that sent anchor Charlie Rose, “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager and chairman and Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves, out the door.
“Our focus is on delivering credible journalism that impacts viewers, and in just three days, we’re succeeding with exclusive, newsmaker interviews and impactful investigations,” a CBS News spokesperson said.