When CBS put out a press release on May 14 touting ratings highlights for all of its news programs — with the exception of “Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel” — the writing was on the wall.
While the release was intended to show growth for broadcasts that made the jump from the ’96-’97 season to ’97-’98, including the “Evening News with Dan Rather,” “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours,” the fact that no mention was made of any highlights from “Public Eye’s” first season was foreboding.
Sources say CBS will announce today that the freshman newsmag “Public Eye” will not return in the fall, despite the confidence the web invested in Gumbel’s star power upon signing him last year.
For now, CBS will focus on the fact that Rather’s evening newscast, “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” are the only returning news programs on the major networks that showed increases in both ratings and total viewers when compared to last season’s averages.
According to season-to-date figures, “Evening News” was the only network evening newscast to post gains in its household rating every night of the week compared to a year ago (up 8% Monday-Thursday, and 4% Friday).
“60 Minutes ” and “48 Hours” are the only returning primetime newsmags to show year-to-year growth as well, with “60 Minutes” experiencing a 4% increase in households to a ratings/share figure of 14.0/24 and a 5% increase in total viewers. “48 Hours” shows an 8% increase in ratings to 8.2/13 and 5% growth in total viewers.
Gumbel will likely contribute to returning Eye web news programs for the ’98-’99 season, and, according to sources, would be included in a “60 Minutes” clone should the network decide to head in that direction midseason.