TCA: CBS News Credits No-Frills Focus, Talent Chemistry for AM Ratings Growth

Complete Coverage: TCA Winter Press Tour

Talent that has been afforded time to gel and a focus on straight news have driven CBS This Morning’s 39-month consecutive ratings growth, CBS News execs and talent said during the TCA winter press tour Tuesday.

Season-to-date, CBS This Morning is up 8% in viewers (3.48m from 3.23m) and up 13% in adults 25-54 (0.9/08 from 0.8/07) compared to last year, according to CBS News.

“You can’t produce your way to a winning program,” Chris Licht, VP of programming for CBS News and executive producer of CBS This Morning, said. “The traction we’re starting to see comes down to talent.” Cohosts Charlie Rose, who joined the panel in person, and Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who joined by satellite, “actually get along and really like each other.”

The panel also emphasized the news focus of the program and the team involved. Rose revealed during the session that he will get the first interview with Sean Penn about Penn’s experience interviewing recently recaptured drug lord El Chapo, and King will interview President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama together live at the White House before the Super Bowl.

Citing viewer feedback, O’Donnell said viewers are telling CBS that “the news is back in the morning.” King added that she often hears people say that every time they watch the show they learn something and that “you don’t take us to silly school.” She says they’ve figured out a formula that is fun and entertaining without being trivial.

Also during the CBS News session, Nancy Lane, senior executive producer, CBS News Digital, announced the formation of a longform doc unit, CBSN Originals. With just over a year under its belt, Lane said they are pleased with the progress. The audience for their digital streaming news network has been building with a progression, starting with the coverage of daily news, then breaking news and the natural next step is longform, Lane said.

CBS News president David Rhodes said we could start seeing reporting that begins on CBSN make its way to the broadcast side.

“It has really injected a nice sense of energy into what we do,” Licht added.