Lara Spencer will appear less frequently on the nation’s most-watched morning news program, “Good Morning America,” as she focuses more on her own projects and after the ABC mainstay has placed more emphasis on the anchor trio of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan.
Spencer will, going forward, appear on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, rather than across the show’s five-day weekday schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter. Spencer, who in 2014 signed a new deal that gave her equal billing with Stephanopoulos and Roberts, has in recent months been given more presence in the program’s second hour, when a live audience fills the studio and she and Strahan get additional screen time. She likely negotiated the new arrangement as part of a new contract.
ABC News declined to make executives available for comment.
Morning shows once changed at a glacial pace. But the A.M. programs are some of the biggest generators of ad dollars for the broadcast networks – “GMA” generated more than $400 million dollars for ABC in 2016, according to Kantar – and one of the few news programs that viewers turn to without having spent an entire day scrolling through headlines and news stories on social media. The battle to win TV’s toast-and-juice crowd has always been fierce among TV networks, but these days, it’s downright savage.
None of the programs has instituted changes as quickly as “GMA.” The show surged to first place in the ratings in 2012 amid a backlash to the ouster of Ann Curry at rival “Today,” largely on the strength of a “family” of hosts who greeted viewers each morning: Roberts, Stephanopoulos, Spencer, Josh Elliott and Sam Champion. Yet the “GMA” of 2018 bears little resemblance to the one that snatched victory from NBC. Champion and Elliott have been gone for years, and even Amy Robach, who became the program’s news anchor, is expected to split duties between “GMA” and “20/20” after Elizabeth Vargas, the anchor of the latter program, leaves at the end of the season.
ABC has been quick to try new things as its NBC rival gained new traction, recapturing the lead among the audience that advertisers covet most – viewers between 25 and 54. Strahan, the affable co-host of ABC’s syndicated “Live” with Kelly Ripa, joined “GMA” full time in the fall of 2016. Since that time, he has greeted viewers every morning with Roberts and Stephanopoulos, part of a broader trend at morning programs to streamline their openings and get viewers the headlines as quickly as possible. The second hour of “GMA” puts more of a spotlight on Spencer as she and her colleagues interact with a live in-studio crowd.
Spencer already hosts “Flea Market Flip,” a series on HGTV that has enjoyed 12 cycles on the Discovery Inc.-owned cable outlet. She is expected to spend more time overseeing other programs under her own production shingle, DuffKat Productions, according to People. She has sold two new programs to the company and will host one of them while executive-producing both, the magazine reported.