Is it really any surprise that Katie Couric can’t grow the audience for the CBS Evening News?  The audience for the 6PM news broadcast is graying, which means that at some point, the number of people for whom that’s a part of their lives will be approaching zero.  What about those not in the “older” American demo?  Say you’re in your 30s or 40s.  I suspect that either you’ve got kids and are helping them with their homework, or you or your spouse is still at the office at that time.  In any case, you’re not watching Katie. 

So, some poor schlub loses his job because Katie’s not pulling numbers, particularly in the younger demo.  I wish these broadcast news organizations would wake up to the fact that younger generations are getting their news from other sources.  No need to list them all.  Fundamentally, the connected consumer has entirely new consumption patterns and aesthetic sensibilities.  Unless the networks completely re-imagine how they deliver news, they’re going to continue sliding into irrelevance. 

After all, even if people are living longer, no one lives forever.  My question to broadcast news organizations is this: Are you going to wait until the market completely dries up before you institute some radical changes.

Another question (one I have no answer to): What’s the value of a daily national news broadcast in a customized, hyperlocal world?

Posted by Rob Fields

  • Rob –
    As a nation of mutts and immigrants, I really hope America never gets so hyper localized that we stop consuming national broadcast news. Even when we didn’t see eye to eye (the sixties), it provided a collective vernacular and cultural experiences (Man on the Moon) that created some bond and inspiration to bridge our differences.
    You’re right that the news needs to find a more flexible format to stay relevant. Maybe this requires inverting the model from news pushing one perspective to aggregating several perspectives.
    We are so overwhelmed with content today, it would be nice to have a national hour of meditation. What if 6:30 was our time to simplify and CBS created an hour on several platforms (online, mobile, tv etc) where we voted for and debated the most important news of the day?
    It could be an Idol meets Headline News where Katie Couric could be less correspondent and more referee. The idea wouldn’t be to create sensationalist news but multifaceted news.
    Just a thought….