Is Christiane Amanpour, the prominent former CNN staffer who has the admirable dream of bringing more foreign news related discussion to network television, tanking in the ratings as host of ABC’s (once) popular Sunday morning show “This Week?” The initial indications certainly seem ominous. Mediaite reports:
Christiane Amanpour has been ABC’s This Week host for nine Sundays and she has finished second, but mostly third, among the competition in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic.
Last Sunday, September 19, the show didn’t just finish in third place, behind NBC’s Meet The Press and CBS’ Face The Nation – it was the lowest ratings in the A25-54 demographic in more than seven years.
NBC had 988,000 viewers in the demo, CBS 854,000 and ABC 608,000. The last time ABC had a lower rating in the demo was the August 24, 2003 show (including regular/full telecasts), near the beginning of George Stephanopoulos‘ reign. Year-to-year, the show was down 29% in total viewers and 38% in the demo, while it declined in both categories week-to-week as well (while NBC and CBS grew).
It’s not like it had anything to do with the guests either – This Week put together arguably the best guest list last Sunday. Amanpour had a Sunday exclusive with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as an interview with Sec. Hillary Clinton. On paper, it was a strong show. But the ratings, which haven’t been spectacular from the very beginning, have continued to see a decline, despite these high profile bookings.
When the show debuted third in total viewers and second in the demo August 1, Executive Producer Ian Cameron told TVNewser, “We are very pleased with the broadcast on Sunday, and we’re exactly where we thought we’d be. It’s been a solid start all around.”
Eight weeks in, the show remains far behind the leader, MTP, and in many weeks, significantly behind second place as well.
When Jake Trapper was fill in host until Amanpour made the official shift, ABC won the rating race some weeks.
But note that this is not usual in high profile network shifts in news show hosts. Often what looks like it’ll wow ’em on paper turns out to either no wow ’em or it requires more time to take hold. That’s because the deals and calculations are often made before the news personality can be free to start their new stint and a temporary host comes in — and is accepted by the audience.
Can Amanpour re-build the ABC audience? Most likely she can. NBC’s David Gregory is not yet an icon of this generation or previous ones.
And Schieffer will eventually leave the CBS scene totally — although he and Andy Rooney will likely outlast us all.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.