Anchor attracts auds to 'Evening News'

Scott Pelley moved the ratings needle for the Eye in his first week at the helm of “The CBS Evening News.”

Pelley brought in about 300,000 more viewers than the Eye’s nightly newscast pulled in during the comparable week last year. “Evening News” averaged 5.74 million viewers during the week of June 6, compared to 5.44 million during the same frame last year. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, the numbers were about the same at 1.3 million.

Pelley’s first night in the chair brought in a much smaller crowd his predecessor, Katie Couric, which pulled in 13.58 million in September 2006.

For the week, CBS remained a distant third in the nightly news race compared to NBC (8.17 million) and ABC (7.14 million).

Pelley gained little week-to-week traction, with “Evening News” viewership up a scant 5,000 viewers compared with Couric’s final shows (rounded numbers come out to 5.72 vs. 5.71) while losing ground in the demo (1.32 million adults 25-54 vs. 1.41 for Couric).

Pelley debuted with little fanfare, making no on-air mention of Couric’s departure or the presence of his own name in the show’s title, and ceding much of the show’s airtime to reports from correspondents abroad.

The low-key approach is in keeping with CBS News chairman Jeff Fager and prexy David Rhodes’ goal of playing to Pelley’s strengths by having the newscast emphasize hard news and in-depth reporting.

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