Nielsen estimates that the first half-hour of the public affairs program averaged 3.95 million viewers, or roughly 50% more than the comparable week a year ago. It also was up about 40% in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (to about 600,000 viewers).
The May 31 broadcast featured interviews with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and CIA Director John Brennan, as well as Schieffer’s goodbye to the audience after 24 years behind the “Face the Nation” desk.
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. 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.”
For the 2014-15 television season, the Schieffer-hosted “Face the Nation” celebrated 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).
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.