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News programs are still big draw for advertisers

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Jeremy Hobson: Katie Couric will anchor the CBS Evening News tonight for the last time. Couric has been making $15 million a year at CBS. But during her almost five year run as anchor she hasn’t been able to boost the ratings. So why does CBS think Couric’s replacement Scott Pelley will do any better?

Come to think of it, why are the networks still trying to make money with news programs?

Here’s reporter Sally Herships.

Sally Herships: News is cheap.

John Greening: You don’t have to pay actors, you don’t have to do sets. You don’t have to write scripts.

John Greening teaches advertising at Northwestern University in Chicago. Greening says news is much cheaper to produce than a police drama, and still attracts big general audiences.

Nielsen ratings says network news pulls in almost 18 million viewers a night, including deep-pocketed, aging baby boomers.

Greening: It’s part of the reason why when you watch network news, you feel like you’ve taken a trip to your medicine cabinet.

Greening says a big chunk of evening news ads are for medications. Leonard Lodish teaches marketing at Wharton. He says advertisers choose news because they’re hoping some of its respectability and trust will rub off on their products.

Leonard Lodish: The environment that someone sees an ad in can influence their response to the ad.

Greening says even though ratings may be down, ad rates are not.

I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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