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Tuesday, June 02, 2015


How ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ became a ratings winner

Answer: by not providing news.

The news on “World News” can be serious and important, but the serious stuff is often fleeting. On a typical Tuesday broadcast in May, the lead story was a “breaking” report about a missing U.S. military helicopter in Nepal (the “breaking” element was unclear, given that the helicopter had been reported missing about 30 hours earlier). The second story was a report about a commercial jet’s “scary landing” (as a bold graphic labeled it) in Hawaii. The event produced no injuries, but the story did have the kind of visual element — video of a damaged plane — that made it compelling for “World News.”

The last quarter of the broadcast included amateur video of a man being extricated from a car involved in a crash, a home invasion caught on a security camera and footage of two men flying jet packs in Dubai.

You have to remember that TV programming is designed to deliver an audience for commercials.

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