Couric Rockets 'CBS Evening News' To No. 1

So far, Katie Couric is worth every penny of her $15 million-a-year salary. After her debut night, it comes to just about a dollar a viewer.

The new "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" posted a gigantic 13.6 million total viewers--almost doubling the number of viewers of its nearest competitors. "NBC Nightly News" had 7.8 million viewers, and ABC's "World News" posted 7.6 million.

It was the program's best outing since February 1998, during CBS's coverage of the Olympic Winter Games. For almost a decade, "The CBS Evening News" has generally been in third place among the network news programs.

The show was also dominant with adult 25-54 viewers--the key network news demo--with a 3.9 rating. It's CBS' best showing among that demo since January 18, 1999. CBS easily bested NBC and ABC, which both registered a 2.3 rating.

For CBS, it was also its biggest margin of victory over NBC and ABC in 13 years--the first available date of daily ratings in the CBS database.



Although thrilled with the performance, Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said a better performance gauge would be the show's ratings six months to a year from now.

An intensive on- and off-air marketing effort by CBS clicked. Compared to the same night a year ago, CBS was up 84 percent in total viewers and 95 percent higher among adult 25-54 viewers.

CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves has previously said that higher ad sales for CBS News programming during the upfront--in anticipation of Couric's arrival--easily made the deal for her an instantly profitable one.

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