Robert correctly tagged the myth of CBS Evening News with Katie Couric’s ratings have greatly improved, but I wanted to follow up with a table and a chart with some seasonal data (Robert provided data from some other periods in his post).
With the Presidential election, all the broadcast evening news showed increases in viewers in the 2008-9 season vs. 2007-8 (cable news networks showed much larger increases, fyi). Looking at the table of season average viewership for the network early evening news, we see that from the 2007-8 season to the partially completed (through 2/8/09) 2008-9 season Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News is up 8.95%. While that is the most of the three broadcast networks, it's insignificantly ahead of the 8.85% increase for NBC, which also had a larger absolute increase in average viewership. As Robert noted, the CBS PR machine has been out in full force for Katie.
For those looking at the longer term trend, Katie Couric took over the CBS Evening News at the beginning of the 2006-7 season.
Broadcast Network Evening News Season Average Viewership
|Season||Viewers (million)||Viewers (million)||Viewers (million)|
|1991 - 1992||13.63||11.92||11.15|
|1992 - 1993||13.84||12.68||11.65|
|1993 - 1994||13.03||11.66||11.62|
|1994 - 1995||12.68||10.32||10.31|
|1995 - 1996||11.62||9.38||10.60|
|1996 - 1997||10.77||9.20||10.91|
|1997 - 1998||10.13||10.12||10.68|
|1998 - 1999||10.23||9.13||10.23|
|1999 - 2000||9.82||8.40||10.25|
|2000 - 2001||9.23||8.52||9.90|
|2001 - 2002||9.85||8.62||10.26|
|2002 - 2003||9.58||8.01||10.25|
|2003 - 2004||9.24||7.55||9.98|
|2004 - 2005||8.96||7.06||9.58|
|2005 - 2006||8.12||7.41||8.99|
|2006 - 2007||8.36||6.74||8.40|
|2007 - 2008||8.18||6.16||8.52|
|2008 - 2009*||8.60||6.71||9.28|
|Y/Y % Change||5.15%||8.95%||8.85%|
|Y/Y # Change||0.421||0.551||0.754|
*2008-9 season data is through 2/8/09, all other seasons are Sept-Sept.
For those a bit more visual, here is a chart of the numbers above, minus the 2008-9 numbers since being just partial season numbers they are not directly comparable.