Couric Heads To The Internet -- Is Big-Name Brand Enough For Success?

Katie Couric is leaving ABC News in what is seemingly a groundbreaking decision to become Yahoo’s “global anchor.”

Sounds like a big job. But will that be enough to make Yahoo more top of mind? I give you four words: Dan Rather and HDNet.

Many would say that Yahoo has a fairly large audience; some 10 million accessed it on the 2012 election night, for example. But others would say that Internet usage data can’t compete with TV’s “reach.”

Then there is this: Katie Couric might continue her syndicated show for Disney/ABC, even as “Katie” has been, at best, a mediocre effort in its one-and-a half years of existence. No, she didn’t become the next Oprah, though many had predicted (or wanted) her to take over that mantle. Far from it.

“Katie” has averaged 2.2 million viewers this season, with five syndicated talk shows garnering higher numbers:  “Dr. Phil” (3.95 million); “Live with Kelly & Michael” (3.58 million); “Ellen” (3.54 million); “Maury”(2.77 million; and “Dr Oz” (2.71 million).



Some would say Couric needed to do more celebrity interviews a la Oprah to be successful, because daytime syndication is often about easily digestible lurid topics that grab the imagination.

The crux of the issue for Couric’s move is that she wants to do serious journalism, something she supposedly didn’t have full access to at ABC News.

Seldom has one big brand name transformed an entire network or platform. Rather and HDNet might have been viewed as one attempt. More recently, despite his notorious demeanor off-air, ex-MSNBC-er Keith Olbermann couldn’t uplift Current.

Still, Yahoo is not a TV network. No matter. Couric gives it some much-needed brand lift -- a face on its platform that has been languishing, according to some critics.

But beware of media fragmentation, which only seems to get worse. Couric witnessed this even before her Disney adventure while at CBS News -- where she couldn’t make much viewership headway as the face of perhaps one of the most serious TV news divisions.

Couric wants to take the digital news mantle and run with it. But TV/video news isn’t consumed the way it was years ago. Big-name TV brands -- while important -- are only a small piece of the puzzle, not the main reason to turn on or click onto a piece of news content.

2 comments about "Couric Heads To The Internet -- Is Big-Name Brand Enough For Success?".
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  1. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, November 27, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

    In an industry that has become stale with the only up lift seems to be overly made-up women in clown make up, anything is worth a try...

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, November 28, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.

    From Downunder this appears to be a 'domestic play' for what is a global medium which seems a strange or myopic strategy. While I know who Katie Couric is because I work in the media industry, if walked down the main street in Sydney I bet that only 1 in 100 people would know who she is (yeah, I know there are only 23 million of us compared to your 300+ million). So I question the logic around whether this move strengthens Yahoo's global brand.

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