Real Media Riffs
While that finding, which was released today by market researcher InsightExpress, may not seem surprising, the bad news is that two of those personalities - NBC's Tom Brokaw and CBS' Dan Rather - are leaving their anchor seats. The retirement of Tom Brokaw is especially vexing.
According to the data, Brokaw had the highest of InsightExpress' so-called News Personality Scores, topping ABC's Peter Jennings, CBS' Rather and the rest of the TV news pack. Yet that still places Brokaw as the No. 3 reason why most viewers watch TV news.
According to the research, "timely coverage" and convenient "broadcast times" were the No. 1 and No. 2 reasons most people watch a particular TV news program.
The research doesn't indicate what impact digital video recorders are having on the importance of TV news schedules, or whether the time-sensitive nature of news makes it less likely to be time-shifted by DVR owners, but the relative importance of news personalities is noteworthy for news producers and advertisers.
Nonetheless, the top TV personality is retiring, and the second most popular one isn't likely to stay around too much longer, giving such emerging newsmen as Fox's Shepard Smith, NBC's Tim Russert and Brian Williams, and CNN's Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown a strong position.
Interestingly, one of the few newswomen to make InsightExpress' list, MSNBC's Paula Zahn, is stepping down from her news anchor perch.
Last on the list was Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, who generated a score that was about half that of the leading anchors.
"As choices for television news are near an all time high, Americans reveal that the person who delivers the news still matters," said Lee Smith, president-COO of InsightExpress. "Network news executives who closely follow consumer preferences for anchors stand the best chance of maintaining and attracting viewers."
InsightExpress News Personality Scores
Tom Brokaw 66.8
Peter Jennings 63.9
Shepard Smith 58.3
Tim Russert 58.1
Brian Williams 57.3
Anderson Cooper 55.6
Aaron Brown 53.3
Dan Rather 52.8
John Roberts 52.6
Jim Lehrer 52.2
Gwen Ifell 52.1
Bob Schieffer 50.1
George Stephanopoulos 50.0
Britt Hume 49.9
John Siegenthaler 48.3
Paula Zahn 44.1
Chris Matthews 42.1
Bob Woodruff 41.1
Bill O'Reilly 37.4
Source: InsightExpress News Personality Scores. Derived from an online survey of 500 Americans.