‘Good Morning America’ Will Launch Newsletter as Morning-TV Battle Goes Digital

ABC and NBC are marching to new kinds of screens in the eternal battle between “Good Morning America” and “Today” for A.M. viewers.

Good Morning America” is revamping the digital extensions of the flagship ABC morning program, said Michael Corn, the show’s senior executive producer, in an interview. While “GMA’s” digital presence has long been a part of a larger alliance between ABC News and Yahoo, this new effort represents an attempt to give fans of the program a more closely aligned site. “We had a very basic approach to digital before this, a meat-and-potatoes approach,” says Corn.

The new GoodMorningAmerica.com is being billed as a venue for “breaking news, entertainment and “heartfelt human interest stories. “ABC News will each day after 6 a.m. distribute a morning newsletter, “GMA Wake Up,” that offers top stories as well as inspirational and lifestyle content related to a number of different categories, says Terry Hurlbutt, vice president and general manager of GMA Digital.

Producers realize, she says, that more viewers are turning to a batch of e-mail newsletters available via smartphones as one of their first activities of the morning. “When you wake up, we want to be there,” she said.

“GMA” is remaking itself for digital audiences as its main rival is testing similar methods. Today.com features verticals devoted to parenting, style and food, and also boasts a spot where viewers can buy items recommended by or featured on the program. NBC News has created a handful of original video series for the site and intends to expand those efforts. And a redesign is said to be in the works, according to a person familiar with the situation. “CBS This Morning” segments are often streamed anew on CBSN, CBS News’ streaming-video hub.

The surge of interest in digital presentation comes as both networks realize “GMA” and “Today” aren’t just for morning audiences. NBC has found the audience for Today.com, for example, spikes at 8 p.m. ABC News expects to have plenty of content on hand to engage a different kind of audience, says Corn. “We have so much content and a two-hour program isn’t even enough for the amount of stories we have to tell, and the amount of information we have.”

The battle for A.M. dominance has never been more fraught. While “Good Morning America” regularly wins the most viewers of any broadcast morning-news show, NBC’s “Today” earlier this year gave it a good run. Viewers showed interest in the new team of Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, and NBCUniversal’s coverage of the recent Winter Olympics helped boost the program. Since that time, however, “GMA” has moved back to dominance among viewers, though its NBC counterpart continues to win the more important demographic – the viewers between 25 and 54 most desired by advertisers.

Meanwhile, morning audiences have a new spate of sources for news and information, ranging from a popular A.M. podcast from The New York Times to any number of e-newsletters from entrepreneurial ventures.

“GMA” viewers can expect to see the show’s hosts online. Co-anchor Robin Roberts is slated to take part in a streaming-video segment for the site that will feature guests coming to her dressing room and surprising her. The program’s other co-anchors, George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan, are expected to contribute to the site in similar fashion. Celebrities and newsmakers booked on the show may also make separate digital appearances, says Hurlbutt.  Look for ABC to use the hashtag #GMAallday to promote the new site across social media.

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