Norah O’Donnell’s ‘CBS Evening News’ Continues Ratings Nosedive With Double-Digit Drop

A new anchor has not saved the sinking flagship

Norah O’Donnell took the helm of CBS’s “Evening News” in July, but so far, she has not righted the sinking flagship program.

Nielsen data shows that the week of October 14, her ratings took another dive. She brought in 5.232 million viewers, 17% less than her predecessor, Jeff Glor, brought in a year ago. In the advertiser-coveted demographic of viewers from 25 to 54, her broadcast got 971,000 viewers — a 25% drop from Glor’s year-ago numbers.

O’Donnell’s newscast has fallen even further behind its competitors. ABC’s “World News Tonight” led the week with 8.227 million overall viewers, with 1.623 million in the 25-54 demo. NBC’s “Nightly News” brought in 7.365 million total viewers. 1.561 million of them were between 25 and 54.

On the plus side, O’Donnell has shown steady growth in the 25-54 demo for the first three weeks of the season (from Sept. 23 to Oct. 13), rising from 906,000 to 941,000 to 954,000 in average audience. But those numbers are significantly below last year’s, when Jeff Glor anchored the broadcast. Glor’s “Evening News” averaged 5.820 million viewers during the 2018-19 season, 1.159 million of whom were in that all-important 25-to-54 age range.

Comparatively, NBC’s “Nightly News” had 7.899 average viewers for the season with 1.733 million in the demo. ABC’s “World News Tonight” had the highest overall viewers with an average of 8.564 million, but took second place in the demo, as 1.707 million between the ages of 25 and 54 tuned in, on average.

In the third quarter of 2019, “Evening News” still came in third place: 5.077 million turned in on average, but in the coveted demo, that number was less than a million: on average, 980,000 viewers between 25 and 54 turned on CBS for their evening news. Overall, the broadcast experienced a 9% drop in viewers. 2018’s third quarter saw 5.595 million tune in.

NBC brought in 7.165 million on average, with 1.534 million in the demo. Again in the third quarter, ABC led in total viewers with 8.092 million on average, but fell to second place in the coveted age range, enticing 1.501 million viewers between 25 and 54.

A representative for CBS News had no comment.

O’Donnell’s July 15 debut drew 1.221 million viewers ages 25 to 54, which was down 24% versus the same night (Monday, July 16) in 2018. Her total-viewer decline was much less dramatic, down just 1%, which was also less of a decline than ABC and NBC experienced year to year.

Compared with the show’s 2019-to-date ratings — the Jeff Glor days — O’Donnell’s summer kickoff was down 22% in the demo and 6% among total viewers. Versus Glor’s final week, O’Donnell’s first show dropped 19% in the key demo. The two versions were steady in total viewers.

Lindsey Ellefson

Lindsey Ellefson

Media reporter • • Twitter: @ellefs0n

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