David Letterman’s exit from latenight drew big ratings Wednesday night, but another longtime CBS figure — Bob Schieffer — is also going out on top.
With the 2014-15 television season in the books, the Schieffer-hosted “Face the Nation” is celebrating its largest audience since the 1987 advent of Nielsen’s people meters (3.42 million), up 5% from last year. By comparison, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” averaged 2.85 million viewers, and NBC’s “Meet the Press” averaged 2.83 million. (“Face the Nation” benefits in comparisons to the other networks’ shows because only its first half-hour is included in averages; its two half-hours air back-to-back in just about 76% of the country.)
In the key news demo of adults 25-54, “Face the Nation” (0.8 rating for its first half-hour) finished ahead of “This Week” and “Meet the Press” (both at 0.7 for their hours).
Capping a journalism career spanning 52 years, Schieffer is retiring this summer from CBS News after more than 45 years with the network, including the last 24 as moderator of “Face the Nation”; his final appearance on the Sunday public affairs program will be May 31. His other CBS posts have included lengthy stints as Chief Washington Correspondent and anchor of the summer and weekend editions of the “CBS Evening News.”
In addition to winning eight Emmys, Schieffer was named a living legend by the Library of Congress in 2008 and inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2013.
John Dickerson, the current political director for CBS News, will be taking over moderator duties at “Face the Nation” in June. The program is executive produced by Mary Hager.
CBS News could also celebrate a seasonal victory for its “CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood,” which finished on top in both adults 25-54 (1.4 rating/7 share) and total viewers (6.06 million) and serves as a potent lead-in for “Face the Nation.” Like “Face the Nation,” this was the largest season average on record for “CBS Sunday Morning,” which is executive produced by Rand Morrison.
Its final telecast of the 2014-15 season last Sunday included Jane Pauley’s interview with Letterman, one of the few he gave in the weeks leading up to his retirement.