Brian Williams has “renewed his commitment” to NBC News, the division announced this morning. But NBC News stopped short of saying it’s until death do them part — saying only it’s for “years to come.”
“I’m thrilled to let you know that Brian Williams has renewed his commitment to NBC News, and will continue to lead NBC Nightly News and serve as our Managing Editor for years to come,” reads a memo from embattled division chief Deborah Turness, who’s busy these days trying to entice viewers back to both her network’s Sunday Beltway program and her morning infotainment show.
Williams’ broadcast is averaging slightly more than 9 million viewers this TV season, which NBC notes is its biggest audience for the start of a season in nine years, putting it on top of the evening news ratings derby in total viewers for 273 consecutive weeks. Unlike 9 years ago, that number outstrips much of NBC’s primetime slate.
Williams recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of his assuming the evening news chair, replacing Tom Brokaw, on December 2, with a slow jam of the news on NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He’s also Tonight Show’s fave rapper — YouTube videos of which have been known to clock nearly 15 million views, which is sure to please Turness, she having been tasked with beefing up the operation’s digital presence, among other marching orders:
But the other newscasts are nipping at Williams’ heels in Nielsen TV ratings. ABC World News Tonight, with David Muir now in the anchor chair, is up 8% compared to last season, and beats Williams in the 25-54 news demographic that’s sold to advertisers, though NBC News counters that Williams wins with 18-49 year old viewers and that ABC’s winning the news demo by pulling in more 50-54 year olds. Meanwhile, Williams’ former NBC News chief Steve Capus, now helming CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley, is making ratings headway.
Williams did not issue a statement this morning, having used his breath in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in which he likened himself to General (and 34th POTUS) Dwight D. Eisenhower, Walter Cronkite, and a “one trick pony” who was “designed and put on this Earth to do what I’m doing now — and that is to eat, sleep and breathe nonfiction and the news going on in the world”, albeit a pony who’s reportedly being paid $10 mil a year for the next five years — and that’s a lot of hay.
I’m thrilled to let you know that Brian Williams has renewed his commitment to NBC News, and will continue to lead NBC Nightly News and serve as our Managing Editor for years to come.
Brian is one of the most trusted journalists of our time. He has led this organization through every major news event for the last decade, from Hurricane Katrina in his first year in the anchor chair to his exclusive interview with Edward Snowden this year, through elections, wars, natural disasters, tragedies and triumphs. In all of those cases he’s taken Nightly News’s viewers to the heart of the stories that matter most in a way that’s uniquely his.
That’s why millions of Americans invite him into their homes every night. They know Brian, his values, his continuing recognition of everyday heroes, and they trust him to help them make sense of the world.
Under Brian’s leadership, Nightly has solidified its position as America’s most watched news broadcast, and is off to its best start of the season in nine years. His deep connection with viewers extends beyond the broadcast to his leading of our breaking news events, his primetime specials and the Nightly offerings on digital and social media. In this changing news and media environment, that special trust in Brian is more important than ever, and therefore wherever Brian is, the audience follows.
A few weeks ago we celebrated Brian’s 10 remarkable years in the anchor chair with the theme, “he’s been there, he’ll be there.” You will have seen the promos across our network, but in celebration of this milestone we cut a special, longer edit – I wanted to share it with you: http://bit.ly/12Q9AuS.
Today is another very proud day for all of us at NBC News. Please join me in congratulating Brian and in looking forward to a shared future together.