September 12, 2006

O'Donnell vs. Couric vs. Vieira

Most of the attention in the network musical chairs has been on Katie Couric. As expected, her ratings were fantastic the first few days. One week later, she came in third in the overnight ratings (Monday), although CBS usually gains when the full national figures come in.

I'm a night person. I've never watched the Today Show regularly. I don't have strong feelings about Couric's first week's performance, either. She's an excellent news reader, but I was disappointed that she didn't continue Bob Schieffer's tack of debriefing reporters after they filed reports, which put both the reporters and the anchor in more spontaneous situations.

Rosie O'Donnell isn't quite the disaster on The View as I suspected, but it didn't take an Einstein to figure out that she would try to dominate the proceedings, both in time and volume. Anyone who watched live View's after the departure of Meredith Vieira knows that the chemistry was already awry. Barbara Walters looks stilted and unhappy.

I just wanted to go on the record as saying that the big winner is going to be NBC. I can't think of a better choice for The Today Show than Meredith Vieira. She's smart, funny, beautiful, and warm. But just as important, she can make transitions from soft to hard news as deftly as any broadcaster I've ever seen.

So my fearless prediction. Couric will be a wash for CBS (CBS Evening News was in third place when she took over, and I expect it to remain so, although at slightly higher levels). Vieira, once she settles in, will be a boon for The TodayShow, and The View will flounder, not so much because O'Donnell is there, but because Vieira isn't.