*”CBS This Morning” is creepin’ on a come up.
The year-to-year audience growth for anchors Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell has been as high as 39 percent in recent weeks, reports TV Guide. With an average of 3 million viewers, CBS scored its best May-sweep morning-ratings performance since 1994. The show has been attracting new fans since its relaunch last year as a newsier, tabloid-free alternative to ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today.”
For example, the recent birth of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby didn’t make it onto CBS This Morning. “We were the only morning show that didn’t mention it,” Gayle King says proudly.
While well behind ABC’s 5.7 million and NBC’s 4.8 million viewers, the numbers indicate that “CBS This Morning” has effectively positioned itself to pick up disenchanted “Today” viewers who may find “GMA” too frothy. “People come up to me and say, ‘You guys actually do news,'” says O’Donnell.
After initial skepticism over his old network’s focus on more serious content, former CBS News president Andrew Heyward now counts himself as a regular viewer. “In a fragmented media world, differentiation is the key to success,” he says. “They’ve done that very well.”
Some of the touches executive producer Chris Licht (formerly of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”) brought to the show, such as the round glass table that lends itself to conversation among the anchors, have even shown up on other morning programs.
“For the first time CBS is not copying anybody in the morning,” says Licht. “They are copying us.”
What has also helped is a team of anchors who truly like each other. “We have real admiration and respect,” says Rose. King adds that her relaxed on-air rapport with Rose has led to questions from viewers about how close they really are. “Women are always asking me about the show,” says King. “One asked me ‘what is it between you two?’ I said ‘what do you mean?’ She said ‘you know what I mean.’ I said ‘I don’t know what you mean.'”
“They’re not dating,” O’Donnell notes. “There is a genuine affection and friendship that’s going on here.”