You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Morning-Show Wars Take a Twist as ‘Today’ Trumps ‘GMA’ in Total Viewers

It’s not a good morning at ABC.

NBC’s “Today” claimed Thursday that it trumped ABC’s “Good Morning America” in total viewers for the first time in a non-Olympics week since 2012, the latest twist in the scorched-earth battle between the two networks to dominate the morning-news audience and lock in millions in extra advertising dollars.

NBC said”Today” beat “GMA” by the thinnest of margins – just 49,000 viewers overall and 180,000 people between 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programming. NBC’s morning program, which has been on the air since 1952, has generally trailed “GMA” in total viewers since the spring of 2012, the result of viewers being turned off by a “Today” turn toward stories of a more tabloid nature and in reaction to an NBC decision in June of that year to remove co-host Ann Curry from the program.

The results have given some TV-news executives pause. NBC said “Today” clobbered “GMA” last Tuesday, March 22, during breaking coverage of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, luring a stunning 693,000 more viewers than “GMA” did on that day. The gap is extraordinary, and a testament to fervent interest in the overseas tragedy. But the normal margins between the shows are much slighter. On Monday, for example, “Today” beat “GMA” by just 53,000 viewers and on Wednesday, it beat the ABC program by 220,000 viewers.

“Due to a reporting error on ABC’s behalf, only a small portion of the show was rated on Tuesday – the numbers are not reflective of the viewership that morning,” said a person familiar with the situation.

Unless the victory is challenged, however, it could stand as a milestone in “Today’s” history — the week the NBC a.m. mainstay came from behind and regained first place from the ABC eggs-and-toast institution.

Behind the scenes, “Today” staffers remain cautiously optimistic, said one person familiar with the program. The war between the two morning shows is far from over, this person said, noting that producers fully anticipate losses to “Good Morning America” over the next few days and weeks. But the numbers, this person said, lend ballast to the theory that offering viewers a stronger dose of hard news in the morning has lent new momentum to the NBC program.

To be sure, both programs have challenges to solve. In the first quarter of 2016, “Today” saw total viewers fall by 3% from the year-earlier period, while “GMA” lost 10%. The daypart is extremely competitive, with Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network also offering morning-news programming. “CBS This Morning” grew viewers by 11% during the first quarter, though it continues to trail both the NBC and ABC programs by a significant margin.

“Today” has put its ABC rival under pressure for weeks, winning the 25-54 crowd for more than 25 weeks. To do so, the program has tried to stand out by owning big news events and testing new ways of presenting them. In recent broadcasts, anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie pushed back hard during an interview with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and MSNBC broadcasters have appeared on the program after they have notched interviews with various candidates for the nation’s top office.

[Updated, 12:50 PT 3/31]

More TV

  • Michael Che Defends Kevin Hart on

    Michael Che Ribs Academy Over Kevin Hart Controversy on 'SNL'

    Kevin Hart may have alienated some in Hollywood over his recently resurfaced homophobic tweets, but that didn’t stop “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che from cracking some jokes in support of Hart on Dec. 8’s “Saturday Night Live.” After briefly recapping that Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars after the 2011 tweets came to light, [...]


    'The Umbrella Academy' Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

    The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. “The Umbrella Academy” stars [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jason Momoa"

    Robert De Niro Appears as Robert Mueller in 'Saturday Night Live' Cold Open

    Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance as special counsel Robert Mueller in “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open. De Niro popped out of a closet in a sketch that skewered President Donald Trump and the mounting legal pressure Mueller’s investigation has put on many of Trump’s associates. Alex Moffatt played Eric Trump in a bedtime-story [...]

  • ‘The Breadwinner,’ ‘Ivandoe’ Top 2019 European

    ‘The Breadwinner,’ ‘The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe’ Top 2018 Emile Awards

    LILLE, France – “The Breadwinner” director Nora Twomey and “The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe” directors Christian Bøving-Andersen and Eva Lee Wallberg took top honors at Saturday night’s second edition of the European Animation Awards (EAA) in Lille, France, scooping best feature and best TV/broadcast production respectively. It was an evening of beautiful [...]

  • The King Eric Clapton A Life

    Rashida Jones, Lili Zanuck Talk Grammy Nominations and the Music-Documentary Gold Rush

    Nothing takes you back to time and a place like the music of a particular era. That’s one big reason why music documentaries are flourishing at a time of enormous demand for high-end docu productions. This year’s five Grammy Award nominees for best music film reflect the appetite for stories about renowned and beloved musical figures, [...]

  • Sacred Games Indian Television

    'Sacred Games,' 'Miss Sherlock' Win Asian Academy Creative Awards

    Hulu Japan and HBO Asia’s “Miss Sherlock” won best drama series at the inaugural Asian Academy Creative Awards. The awards were spread over two evenings at Singapore’s Capitol Theatre on Friday and Saturday. India’s Anurag Kashyap won best direction (fiction) for season one of Netflix original series “Sacred Games.” The series also won best editing [...]

  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend -- "I'm Not The

    'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Boss Breaks Down Introducing Skylar Astin as the New Greg

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “I’m Not the Person I Used to Be,” the Season 4 midseason finale of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” As the CW’s musical comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” prepares to sign off with a series finale in 2019, showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna and her team of writers have been pushing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content