CBS’ Evening News Hits Lowest Ratings In Nearly 20 Years As ABC’s World News With Diane Sawyer Gains

Here’s a factoid you don’t want to see if you work at CBS News: your flagship newscast, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric hit the lowest ratings in nearly two decades–actually, the lowest on record, since Nielsen figures for the program only go back to 1992. Hence the widespread belief in media circles that Couric, whose CBS contract expires in June, will not be continuing in her evening news role.

For the first quarter of 2011, in the key demo of adults 25-54, the CBS Evening News averaged 1.98 million viewers, compared to ABC World News‘ 2.43 million and NBC Nightly News‘ 2.94 million.

At NBC, the first quarter numbers mean another first-place finish, though the ratings dropped from a year ago, when NBC had high ratings as the network carried the Olympics. ABC, meanwhile, with a continued aggressive push including high profile interviews and travel by anchor Diane Sawyer, was the only network evening newscast to gain viewers year-to-year, and posted its largest first quarter audience since 2008. The network also saw double-digit ratings increases versus the fourth quarter 2010.

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