There’s a new sheriff at NBC News, Steve Capus, and he’s really shaking things up:
Its most notable innovation so far was announced by Mr. Capus earlier this month: NBC became the first broadcast network to make its early-evening newscast available later each night, at no charge, on the Internet. Soon, the network expects to offer similar online versions of “Today” and “Meet the Press,” and is already providing news updates to cell phone customers of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, among others.
Unfortunately for Mr. Capus, the trend lines aren’t good:
[W]hile “NBC Nightly News” has recently widened its lead over “World News Tonight” on ABC, both programs have lost several hundred thousand viewers in the television season that began in September, as compared to the same period a year ago. While some of the falloff could be attributed to waning interest since last year’s presidential election, Mr. Capus said yesterday that there were surely other dynamics at work.
“We would all be foolish to ignore that number about how much we’re off,” Mr. Capus said. “We all have to figure out new ways to grow the audience. That’s why we’re putting so much emphasis on these new platforms. It gives us a whole new group of audience members that weren’t there before necessarily, and don’t sit down to watch the ‘Nightly News’ at 6:30 every night.”
The problem –the root, basic, deep down and undeniable problem– is that at least half of America’s news consumers, the red state voters, don’t trust the nets. It is difficult to get that trust back, and NBC has done exactly zero to do so.
The innovations that would pay off with viewers would be innovations that brought balance and credibility back to a news division that is rightly regarded as very left of center, and very pro=Democrat.
You can offer Tim Russert in real time, and he’ll still be the charming, talented, pro-Democrat anchor he’s always been.
You can air Keith Olbermann round-the-clock, and he’ll still be a sportscaster rooting for his home team Dems.
The first rule of holes still applies.