Under Pelley, ‘CBS Evening News’ Sees Better Ratings

When Scott Pelley took over the CBS EVENING NEWS from Katie Couric in June, 2011, he had his work cut out for him: despite the fact that it did well here in the Lowcountry, the show had been a distant third place for years nationally with lots of effort put into turning that around, but with far too little success.

CBS-NEWS-Scott-PelleyThe latest ratings measurements tell a story of continued success.

The CBS EVENING NEWS is the only network evening news broadcast to se year-to-year ratings increases in what is known as the “key demo,” in this case, Adults 25-54. That age group is referred to as the “key demo” in the network news audience because that’s the one advertisers are most interested in attracting. Continue reading


Pelley’s Evening News Shows Growth

There’s good news and not-as-good news on ratings for the CBS EVENING NEWS with SCOTT PELLEY.

The good news is that ratings have increased 5% year to year from the same week last year when Katie Couric was the primary anchor.  The comparison involved the week of July 4th.

The not-as-good news is that both NBC and ABC also saw a 5% increase in their evening newscasts’ ratings that week.

So on one hand, the show is performing better than last year, but on the other, it’s still the same distance in ratings from the NBC and ABC.

Still, no one at CBS News claims to have expected overnight improvement in ratings for a show that has been the number 3 news broadcast for years.  And Pelley has largely won over critics who feel he is definitely adding more substance to the newscast.

So we’ll have to wait and see whether the increase continues.

Pelley Debut Wins Acclaim

Scott Pelley’s first newscast is behind him, and for the most part, critics seem to be pleased with what they saw.

Several have praised the Texas-born Pelley for not leading Monday’s CBS EVENING NEWS with the Rep. Anthony Weiner drama.  NBC’s Bryan Williams led with the story of the New York politician who held a press conference to confirm that a suggestive body photo sent via Twitter was, in fact, of himself.

At the Washington Post, Hank Stuever praised Pelley for taking the high road, leading with a six-minute-long report on Afghanistan, the five American soldiers who were just killed there, and the future of America’s involvement in the region.  Stuever described it as “a ray of serious sunshine on the future of TV journalism.”

At the New York Times, Allesandra Stanley was happy that Pelley resisted leading with the late-breaking sex drama, adding that by the time Pelley did get around to mentioning the story, he asked a congressional correspondent why Weiner even mattered.  Stanley says Pelley signaled that he’s a “no-nonsense news man.”

At the same time, she questioned whether he could really bring “world-class reporting” of 60 MINUTES to the nightly broadcast.  She also questioned whether CBS might be subtly trying to suggest that Pelley is a return to the “glory days” of CBS News, mentioning that the gold world map behind Pelley is a replica of the map that hung behind Walter Cronkite when he was anchor of the broadcast.

Unmentioned was the fact that the network even returned to the  theme music it used from 1987 until 1991.

Whether Pelley will accomplish that return to the network’s glory days remains to be seen, and that’s a question that will likely to take a long time to answer.  But if his debut is any indication, the new man at the anchor desk doesn’t want it to be all about him, but about the stories and what they mean to the audience.

And isn’t that what we all want in a news anchor?

Couric Set to Depart Evening News Thursday

Katie Couric’s last day as anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS will be this Thursday.

Couric made the announcement at the conclusion of Friday’s broadcast, ending speculation on how close to the end of her contract she’d actually remain at the big desk.

Her replacement, 60 MINUTES correspondent Scott Pelley, won’t take over anchoring duties until June 6th, which will leave a hole to be filled by rotating anchors.  One likely fill-in will be Harry Smith, who was appointed the show’s primary fill-in anchor when he was taken off THE EARLY SHOW in January.

Couric also said that on Thursday’s broadcast, she would relive some of the big stories covered during her five years at CBS News.

Pelley Officially Named Evening News Anchor

CBS has finally made official the announcement everyone already expected:  60 MINUTES correspondent Scott Pelley will become the next anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS when current anchor Katie Couric departs.

The change will take effect on June 6th, according to new information from the network.  Pelley will continue to report on 60 MINUTES.

“Scott has it all. He has the experience, the credibility and he is among the very best reporters ever to work at CBS News,” said CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager. “In more than two decades at CBS News, he has distinguished himself at every level, right up to his current role at ’60 Minutes,’ where his work has been incomparable. We like to think of CBS News as the ‘reporter’s network’ and I can’t think of anybody in this business better suited for the anchor chair than Scott.”

“I am delighted to join the terrific team at the ‘CBS Evening News,'” Pelley said. “It’s a privilege to work alongside the most gifted and talented journalists in the industry.”

Pelley, 53, joined CBS News in 1989, and has been a correspondent on the venerable 60 MINUTES since 2004.  Couric, 54, leaves the broadcast following a five year run in the anchor chair that never boosted the program’s ratings as network executives hoped.

Despite that, Couric’s CBS EVENING NEWS pulled higher household ratings in the Lowcountry than nationally-top-ranked NBC Nightly News. 

It’s Official…Sort of.

An unnamed CBS source confirmed over the weekend that Katie Couric will leave her CBS EVENING NEWS anchor slot.

I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself from the shock of that announcement.

Couric, who has been rumored to be “this close” to leaving for more than a year now, hasn’t announced any official plans. The source, who spoke to the Associated Press anonymously because Couric has made no such announcement, couldn’t provide a date that Couric would step down or the name of her replacement.

Her contract expires in early June. Speculation of late has placed 60 MINUTES correspondent Scott Pelley as the leading contender to replace her. But there’s also Harry Smith, who left CBS’s EARLY SHOW in January to become the primary substitute anchor for Couric, Bob Schieffer on FACE THE NATION and Charles Osgood on SUNDAY MORNING.

Russ Mitchell may also be an internal candidate, the AP reports.

But even with three solid options in-house, that doesn’t mean that CBS wouldn’t seriously consider bringing in someone from outside CBS News.

So we’re left with only a slightly more credible story that the 54-year-old Couric’s tenure on the evening newscast is coming to an end.

Some time. Likely soon.

Or not.

Insiders: Couric offered ’60 Minutes’ slot

Katie Couric/©CBS, Inc.

Over the weekend, speculation began circulating that 60 MINUTES correspondent Scott Pelley was a leading contender to take over the CBS EVENING NEWS when Katie Couric’s contract is up.  Insiders at the network told the New York Post that Couric has been offered a package that would move her to the venerable news magazine.

The offer could be attractive enough to persuade Couric to do a possible syndicated daytime talk show through CBS, which is the largest syndicator.

Pelley, 53, has been with CBS since 1989, and has been a 60 MINUTES correspondent since 2004.  Before that, he contributed to 60 MINUTES II, and previously served as the network’s chief White House correspondent.

Couric, 54, who left NBC’s Today show to take over the CBS EVENING NEWS in 2006, is wrapping up a five-year contract which expires this June.  Early speculation suggested that CBS would ask Couric to remain in that position through the 2012 elections, but the newest rumors say Couric and Pelley could trade places sooner than that.

Curiously unmentioned in the rumor mill is CBS Senior Correspondent Harry Smith, who left THE EARLY SHOW this past January to become the primary substitute anchor for Couric, and also for Bob Schieffer on FACE THE NATION and Charles Osgood on SUNDAY MORNING.  Couric is said to be on vacation this week, so Smith is the likely fill-in.

Though Couric never brought CBS the evening news ratings success executives were hoping for, here in the Lowcountry, the CBS EVENING NEWS scored better in February in household viewers than the nationally top-rated NBC Nightly News.

Anchor Changes on the Way to Early Show

CBS’s morning program, THE EARLY SHOW, is undergoing major anchor changes, CBS News has confirmed.

Harry Smith/CBS

As reported by the Associated Press and TV Newser, anchors Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price are leaving the show.

Chris Wragge and Erica Hill, current anchors of the Saturday edition of the program, and Marysol Castro, a former weather correspondent of ABC’s Good Morning, America, will replace them.  Jeff Glor will be the news anchor in the new lineup.

The new lineup will debut on January 3rd, CBS News President Sean McManus said.

“We constantly focus on how to improve the broadcast, and we think we have a terrific combination in Erica, Chris, Jeff and Marysol. This new team brings vibrancy, intelligence and warmth that I think America will grow to love,” McManus said.

Maggie Rodriguez/CBS

Wragge and Hill have co-anchored the Saturday Edition of THE EARLY SHOW since 2008.  Hill also has been News Anchor for THE EARLY SHOW since January of this year. Wragge has also been co-anchor of CBS 2 News at 5:00 PM and 11:00 PM in New York, the nation’s largest market, a position he has held since 2006.

Glor has anchored the Saturday edition of the CBS EVENING NEWS and been a National Correspondent reporting for all CBS News broadcasts since 2009.  He has also been a substitute anchor for the CBS EVENING NEWS since March 2007. Castro served as the weather and feature correspondent of ABC News’ weekend edition of Good Morning America from 2004 to 2010.

Dave Price/CBS

CBS has confirmed that Smith, Rodriquez and Price will continue at CBS News in new roles.

Smith will shift his focus to hard news with an expanded role as primary substitute anchor on the CBS EVENING NEWS, FACE THE NATION and SUNDAY MORNING, while continuing to report major stories for all CBS News broadcasts. Smith has been anchor of THE EARLY SHOW since October, 2002, and previously anchored a past morning news program for the network, CBS THIS MORNING, from 1987 to 1996. He joined CBS News in 1986.

Discussions are currently underway concerning the roles Rodriquez and Price will have. Rodriguez joined THE EARLY SHOW in December 2007 and is also a substitute anchor on the CBS EVENING NEWS. Price joined CBS News in July, 2003.

CBS’s EARLY SHOW has been the third-rated morning news program and has struggled for years in ratings against GMA and NBC’s Today.

THE EARLY SHOW airs weekdays 7:00-9:00am, following the Lowcountry’s top-rated local early news program, LIVE 5 NEWS THIS MORNING.

Everybody Still Has a Story

CBS EVENING NEWS Correspondent Steve Hartman, who continues to report the popular “Assignment America” series, will revisit his popular series, “Everybody Has a Story” for a limited run starting tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC.

The original “Everybody Has a Story” series proved the adage by sending Hartman to a location chosen by throwing a dart at a map of the United States. Once there, Hartman would randomly select his subjects from a phonebook and then interview them to learn their unique story. This limited run takes the series global with stops in Muscat, Oman; Riga, Latvia; and Rewari, India.

“For the last 10 years I’ve been wondering what it would be like to do this internationally,” Hartman said. “I think Americans feel increasingly alone in the world. And though the world may seem like a very different place than it was when I launched ‘Everybody Has a Story’ in 1998, I believe this project can truly make the point that when you set aside politics and preconceived ideas, it doesn’t really matter where you are. People are people.”

For this international version of ‘Everybody Has a Story’ Hartman enlisted the help of astronauts aboard the International Space Station, who chose his locations using an inflatable globe.

Hartman’s interview subjects were chosen by randomly choosing a name from a phonebook, in the same manner as the original series. The interviews that followed are meant tell extraordinary stories from seemingly ordinary people.

“Steve has a truly unique ability to see originality and wit in all walks of life and share those stories with our viewers. He does it each week with ‘Assignment America’,” Rick Kaplan, Executive Producer of the CBS EVENING NEWS, said. “Bringing back ‘Everybody has a Story’ gives him the opportunity to travel beyond our shores and find those great stories across the globe.”

The original run of ‘Everybody Has a Story’ won virtually every major broadcast journalism award, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, an Emmy Award for writing and an RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow Award.

Be sure to catch the first of four weekly installments, tonight at 6:30pm, right after LIVE 5 NEWS AT 6.

Oscar Winner Tapped as New CBS News Voice

If you watched the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC on the first Monday of the new year, you may have noticed something new right off the top of the show: a veteran Acadamy Award winner voicing the show’s open.

Actor Morgan Freeman, known for his roles in The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, and Million Dollar Baby, has been hired as the new voice of CBS News.

Freeman’s voice replaces that of legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, who passed away back in July.

Cronkite’s voice was pulled from the opens after his death, but was returned after Cronkite’s family gave its blessing. But CBS News felt that the time was right to transition to a new voice for the new year.

Having the open voiced by a different announcer adds the advantage of being able to have custom opens for special editions of the broadcast, when Couric might anchor from locations other than the network’s New York headquarters.

Hear it for yourself tonight at 6:30pm, right after LIVE 5 NEWS AT 6.