‘Good Morning America’ Dominates Morning News Ratings Race as ‘Today’ Slides

It’s hardly a shock that ABC’s “Good Morning America” wore the morning-show ratings crown for the first week of the television season, but its margin of victory over runner-up “Today” on NBC was rather surprising.

Racking up its highest-rated frame since mid-spring, “GMA” bested “Today” by its largest margins for any week in more than 20 years (since May 1994). The NBC program was down double-digits in key demos vs. premiere week 2013, while both “Good Morning America” and third-place “CBS This Morning” were on the rise.

Looking at the Nielsen “live plus same-day” estimates for the week of Sept. 22-26, “Good Morning America” averaged 5.677 million viewers — a 2% rise over premiere week a year ago (5.547 million) while “Today” slid 7% (to 4.425 million from 4.752 million). “CBS This Morning” rose 5% to 2.986 million.

“GMA” was even more impressive in adults 25-54, breaking open what had been a tight race a year ago. It was up 5% year-over-year (to 2.168 million) while “Today” tumbled by 14% (to 1.731 million).

“Good Morning America” has now kicked off the season a winner for three straight years. And in all categories, this is “GMA’s” largest margin of victory in the first week of the television season since at least 1991 (the start of Nielsen’s electronic database).

The ABC morning show has been picking up steam of late, improving its ratings averages for the five consecutive weeks since mid-August and drawing its best numbers since late April. Overall, it has won all 31 weeks since the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics (which provided carrier NBC a big boost).

Last week, it even prevailed in adults 18-49 (1.523 million to 1.398 million for “Today”), a category the NBC program has won for years.

“Today” remains well ahead of third-place “CBS This Morning,” but its advantage over the Eye program was slashed year-to-year — to 1.439 million total viewers (down from 1.901 million a year ago) and to 744,000 in the adults 25-54 demo (down from 1.034 million).

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