Interrupting a decade-long drift of viewers away from hard news toward softer fare, serious TV news is drawing serious ratings this winter. Viewership is rising at shows like "60 Minutes" and
"NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," thanks to high interest in all things Obama, plus major developments in the economy and the Middle East.
CBS' "60 Minutes" has seen its audience jump 9%
so far this season, after a five-year ratings slide. It has averaged 15.4 million viewers, more than most network prime-time shows. The program finished among the top 10 on broadcast television for
its last eight episodes.
ABC's "Nightline," has drawn about 4 million viewers per episode this season, regularly beating "The Late Show with David Letterman." PBS' "Newshour" has drawn 1.25 million viewers on average, with ratings trending up and Web traffic more than doubling over the previous year. Why now? "We live in serious times," says James Goldston, executive producer of "Nightline." "Every day there is big news, but none of it's very simple. All of it takes some explaining."