Michael Strahan, Sara Haines Will Carry ‘GMA’ From Morning to Afternoon

Walk into a room containing Michael Strahan and Sara Haines and you’re going to get a jolt. This duo radiates energy. Now ABC needs to figure out a way to harness it.

Haines and Strahan will on Monday lead an ambitious bid by the Walt Disney-owned network to expand its flagship morning program, “Good Morning America,” to a new afternoon perch. “GMA Day,” slated to air at 1 p.m. weekdays, is seen as a way to add a third hour to the A.M. flagship, extending its presence on the network.

This new hour hinges on the heartwarming, however, not the headlines. “You probably need to be taken away from some of the more serious things out there, and I think this is really it,” says Strahan, who vows the program will be “very fun. It’s a show that is inspiring at times.”

The two hosts promise to deliver a series that will include some of the usual daytime-TV staples – celebrity interviews, cooking segments, health-and-wellness features, feel-good stories – but with a few twists. “We want to make sure when you tune in, you leave knowing something, that you are learning with us,” says Haines. “You can check out for an hour to be with us. You will leave a little better, but you will definitely leave happier.” ABC is keen on making sure viewers have a “takeaway” from many of the show’s segments.

Behind the light banter is serious business. ABC is hoping the duo can carry their morning mainstay into other parts of the day – and generate new money for the franchise. “GMA” generated approximately $359.1 million in ad dollars for ABC last year, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. That figure is significantly lower than what NBC gets from the first two hours of rival “Today,” which have in the past nabbed more than $500 million in a year. One way to wring more revenue out of “GMA” is to broaden its presence, giving advertisers more of the property to sponsor.

The network is banking on the hosts’ chemistry to spark a reaction with daytime viewers. During an interview at the “Good Morning America” studios in New York’s Times Square, Haines and Strahan tease one another, describe trying to beat each other at basketball, and vow to make audiences want to find the show even if they have to watch later at night.

“We love to laugh. We love absurdity,” says Haines. She hopes audiences will treat the program like a big must-see. “When you sit home and watch a viral video, and you go ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe they said that!’  You can watch that any time, anywhere, on any device.”

The two say they have known each other for years and can’t fake their rapport. “If we are on the show ‘acting’ like we like each other, ‘acting’ like we are interested in something, then that comes across as phony,” says Strahan. “People are smart enough now, as many choices as they have, they don’t have to see something they don’t feel is authentic.”

A third hour of “GMA” is an easier prospect to pitch to Madison Avenue than a brand-new series. “As ‘GMA’ is such a proven and successful franchise in its own right, having a daytime extension show should fit seamlessly into their schedule,” says Dave Sederbaum, senior vice president of video activation at media-buying agency Carat. “For many clients who already support both ‘GMA’ and daytime in general, adding ‘GMA Day’ would not be a ‘hard-sell,’” he adds.

Media buyers are counting on viewers’ familiarity with the morning program, as they suggest ABC has not offered a wealth of detail about the content of the new show. Strahan and Haines have been in rehearsals this week and producers are narrowing down which segments, topics and ideas seem to work best.

“I probably would be surprised if it bombed,” says Lisa Herdman, senior vice president and director of national video and branded entertainment for ad agency RPA. “They are taking a page from Kathie Lee and Hoda, Kelly and Ryan and other daytime shows. It’s going to be very much in that vein.”

One advertiser has already struck a deal to be incorporated into the program.  Hershey’s will be woven into the September 13 broadcast when Strahan and Haines share the story of Bob Williams, an Iowa man who has found joy by passing out Hershey’s bars to people over two decades.  Hershey’s employees are expected to take to the “GMA” studio and the streets around it and pass out the confectioner’s famous milk-chocolate bars. That date also happens to be founder Milton Hershey’s birthday.

Both hosts are betting on the new show as well. Haines left a stint on “The View” to take part, and notes she has always wanted to co-host a show in which she plays off a partner. And Strahan, who typically doesn’t work at “GMA” Mondays during football season because he flies to Los Angeles each weekend to work for Fox Sports, will suit up for the new hour that day. He will maintain his other “GMA” duties and launches the new show even as he also takrd up additional duties at Fox for “Thursday Night Football.”

ABC experimented with an afternoon presence for “Good Morning America” in the not-too-distant past. Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer co-anchored a short run of “Good Afternoon America” between July and September of 2012 in a separate bid to test expansion of the franchise.

Viewers are likely to try to compare the new “GMA Day” to either the flagship or a program like ABC’s syndicated “Live,” where Strahan rose to greater fame. But this new hour boasts a critical difference, Strahan says: “This is something that is starting from scratch.”

More TV

  • Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and

    Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and Heroic' 'Years and Years' Character

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of “Years and Years.” Russell T. Davies’ limited series “Years and Years” began with a birth, but it did not wait until the finale to book-end the story with a death. In the fourth episode of the multi-year spanning family drama, [...]

  • Hugh GRant photographed by Shayan Asgharnia

    Listen: Hugh Grant on Why He Would Kill Social Media if He Could

    Hugh Grant has been very active in U.K. press reform initiatives, but he knows the problem is even bigger than the media moguls who control the world’s major news outlets. That’s why Hacked Off, the campaign he’s involved with, is also expanding its scope to include the impact of online propaganda. “It’s particularly terrifying, the [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    TV Review: 'Veronica Mars' Season 4

    “Veronica Mars” was a slap to the face of high school dramas when it premiered on UPN in 2004. Creator Rob Thomas took the well-worn “who killed the pretty teenager?” whodunnit and hard-boiled it, following a traumatized girl desperately trying to harden herself to the world’s harsh realities as she tried to solve the case. [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow

    Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow to Launch New Era at 'CBS Evening News'

    Though Norah O’Donnell had her first turn as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Monday night, she didn’t rely on any attention-grabbing tricks to carry the day. There was no flashy drawing board, no rattling off of unsettling, urgent headlines and no wrap-up of the day with a mawkish end segment calling up some element of [...]

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content