A ratings race is a marathon, not a sprint, so a slow start doesn't mean a poor finish. But after all that money spent on all those ads, CBC sure can't be too happy with their new news numbers so far.
Monday's audience for The National at 10 was 482,000 viewers across Canada, dropping to 417,000 at 10:25. This is exactly where the news was mired a month ago before the splashy re-launch, and about a quarter million viewers less than tuned in one week ago for the first look at the new set and format. (All numbers BBM Canada overnight estimates.)
So it opened solid, if now big, and has dropped. Not good.
Especially when you consider that the competition is a little lighter last week and this week. Thanks to the down week heading into sweeps plus the World Series, many of the powerful U.S. blockbusters on the private Canadian broadcasters have been in reruns. Global's No. 1 show, House, for example, was a rerun Monday night (still fetching 1,410,000), as was rising newcomer Lie to Me (895,000). While these shows don't air opposite CBC news at 10, they generally provide some momentum and lift to Heroes, last night down to 568,000 viewers.
Now look at how CTV's local Evening newscast did Monday night: 1,940,000 "commercial" viewers, probably over 2 million once the CTV Totals are calculated. Global National at 5:30 drew 1,291,000.
CTV had its usual big Monday night: CSI: Miami did 2,307,000, Dancing with the Stars 2,141,000. There were a few big sports draws on last night, including Monday Night Football on TSN (676,000) and World Series baseball on Sportsnet (608,000).
Fact is, every single weeknight at 10, CBC faces killer competition opposite the private networks and even on specialty channels. No new set, bigger bench, zippier graphics or see-through desk will ever change that. Pamela Anderson could do the news naked on a fake seal skin rug and, after the first few nights, you'd still be looking at 600,000 viewers a night, tops.
It has to be sinking in that the problem is the timeslot. The only fair fight would be Lloyd and Peter, head-to-head, 11 p.m.
Look at how Jay Leno has slid at 10. Citytv was down to 225,000 Leno viewers Monday night with just 96,000 in the 25-54-year-old demo. Viewers want and expect to see dramas at 10. Step outside that box at your peril.
OTHER MONDAY NIGHT NUMBERS: CBC's Battle of the Blades results show (1,143,000). A channel's Two and a Half Men (975,000). Little Mosque on the Prairie (543,000). Discovery's Canada's Worst Driver (479,000). Just Four Laughs (451,000), The Hour You'll Never Get Back (139,000).
Other shows that did better than The National Monday night: SpongeBob SquarePants (YTV, 650,000), ETalk (CTV, 590,000), Fairly Odd Parents (YTV, 545,000), iCarly (YTV, 502,000), Suite Life (Family, 500,000).