Ed Driscoll

The Incredible Shrinking New York Times--And NBC

Thomas Lifeson has some thoughts on the Times’ business model, such as it is:

Like some robber baron capitalist of yore, the New York Times is telling the remaining full price readers of its print product that they will pay more and get less, the same message it has been sending advertisers for years. But far from a sign of strength, this move is an indicator that the slow motion business collapse of the New York Times Company may be picking up its pace.

Yet another sign of the industry’s Red Queen’s Race?

And speaking of the Red Queen’s Race:

All the attention paid to Couric’s tough start at CBS has overshadowed what’s been going on at NBC. In Couric’s first 39 weeks at CBS, she’s lost 287,000 viewers from the average of a year ago, a drop of 4 percent from predecessor Bob Schieffer’s audience. At the same time, “Nightly News” lost 533,000 viewers, or 5 percent, Nielsen said.

In [anchorman Brian Williams’] first three months after taking over from Tom Brokaw in December 2004, “Nightly News” averaged 10.79 million viewers. In the past three months, it’s been 7.66 million. To be fair, the nightly news audience traditionally drops when warm weather arrives, and it has been a slow news period.

Still, that’s a lot of missing viewers.

Or as Drudge breathlessly puts it: “NBC Brian Williams loses more viewers than CBS Couric!”

That’s not the sort of comparison that Brian is used to–this sort of equivalence is much more his pace. And curiously, the AP piece that Drudge links to doesn’t suggest that perhaps the two stories back April in which NBC personalities played a pivotal role might also be impacting their current ratings: the Imus scandal and, much more significantly, NBC’s dreadfully ill-conceived decision to run photos mailed in by the horrific VT gunman, Cho Seung-Hui. As Mickey Kaus said back then, “Who Did More Damage, Brian Williams Or Don Imus?”

Update: Welcome InstaReaders! Glenn Reynolds writes that there may be a further connection (which actually ties both of the above items together) to be found here, and I’m inclined to agree.

More: Greg Pollowitz of NRO’s media blog concurs:

What the AP leaves out as a possible reason for the lost audience is the Virginia Tech shooting and NBC’s horrible pimping and airing of the gunman’s video suicide note. The Tech massacre, like NBC’s ratings slump, happened about two months ago.

I wonder if this (a) never occurred to AP’s writer or (B) the idea was cut from the article by his editor? In any case, it’s certainly a curious omission.

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