Now that Katie's made it official, we question whether her loyal female viewers will follow her from her morning digs on NBC's Today show to her new day job anchoring the CBS Evening News. If she can pull that off, she will have performed a television ratings feat of herculean proportions.
The Nielsen Co. has been kind enough to provide the following breakdown of the morning and evening newscast audiences by gender. Since September 2005, the morning news shows have tended to lure audiences that are about two-thirds female and one-third male.
Good Morning America (ABC)male 33.4 percent / female 66 percent
Today (NBC)male 34.5 percent / female 65 percent
The Early Show (CBS)male 38.5 Percent / female 61 percent
But the CBS Evening News skews less decidedly female at 58 percent.
And even though Couric is the first woman hired to host an evening newscast solo, several have coanchored those programs in recent and not-so-recent years (Connie Chung, Barbara Walters, etc.) to less than rave audience reviews.
While named as a coanchor in January, ABC's Elizabeth Vargas has in fact been hosting World News Tonight by herself since coanchor Bob Woodruff was seriously injured by a bomb blast on assignment in Iraq. The bad news for Vargas is, since she took the helm, the show has been losing viewers. According to televisionpoint.com, evening-newscast viewers (average age, around 60) recently have been moving trusty, crusty Bob Schieffer ever closer to the top spot, and ABC was losing audience share.
In fact the site reports, "The CBS Evening News came the closest to overtaking ABC's World News Tonight for the week in over four years, trailing this past week by just -0.2 of a household rating point."
If Schieffer is outdrawing Vargas, does that mean nighttime news viewers are more comfortable watching a man than a woman? Nighttime newscast anchor jobs whose audiences have delined mightily since the precable news era are still considered the thrones of network TV news departments. Are Americans more comfortable with Kings than Queens in those thrones? Only time and Katie will tell.