Norah O’Donnell and CBS have secured a deal to keep her at the network and as anchor of “CBS Evening News” through the 2024 election “and beyond,” an individual with knowledge confirmed to TheWrap.
Friday night, Puck’s Dylan Byers reported that O’Donnell’s contract was coming up for renewal and had been subjected to “endless industry gossip” that she would be leaving. “This news should put it to rest for a while, at least,” CNN’s Brian Stelter reported.
“After plenty of rumors to the contrary, Norah O’Donnell is staying home, and set up to finally become the Peter Jennings of CBS—the star that the news division is built around, which in 2022, naturally, means some streaming stuff, too,” Byers said in his report.
TheWrap reached out to a network rep, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When O’Donnell took over as anchor of “CBS Evening News” in July 2019, her debut drew 1.221 million viewers ages 25-54 — the key demographic for news programming — which was down 24% versus the same night 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.
Over the months that followed, ratings continued to nosedive with a double-digit drop, bringing in 5.232 million viewers, 17% less than her predecessor, Jeff Glor, brought in the year before and falling further behind its competitors.
After moving operations to Washington, D.C. in December 2019, ratings began to steadily improve week-to-week, averaging 6.811 million total viewers, 1.443 million of whom were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25-54.
Earlier this year, Neerah Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, presidents and co-heads of CBS News and Stations, announced a rebranding and overhaul that included a new studio in New York and a new slate of programming. Amid the digital rebranding, O’Donnell was named as host of the new streaming show, “Person-to-Person.” Her “Evening News” will also stream on the platform at 10 p.m. ET, two hours after it airs on television.
But the rumor mill began buzzing this past January that CBS was recruiting Brian Williams, who departed MSNBC, to take O’Donnell’s “Evening News” time slot, but he turned the network down twice, according to CNN.
The news about O’Donnell’s extension comes two months after “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Gayle King said on her SiriusXM radio show that she “officially signed on the dotted line” to “be with CBS a little longer.”