ABC will tie Michael Strahan even more closely to its “Good Morning America” franchise when it pairs the popular host with Sara Haines in a third hour of the program slated to air in early afternoon on the network starting September 10.
A person familiar with the program confirmed details about its hosts and disclosed the show’s start date. ABC News, which produces the program, declined to make executives available for comment.
Launch of the show will extend the presence of “GMA” to the network’s daytme schedule from its early-morning grid, and allow ABC to create bigger packages for advertisers, as NBC does with four hours of “Today.” The idea should also boost affiliates, as ABC can promote the extension during the main “GMA” broadcast that airs between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
The new hour is expected to be taped, not presented live, and run at 1 p.m. on weekdays. One scenario that has been discussed for the new hour would involve making use of the live, in-studio audience assembled each morning for the 8 a.m. hour of the flagship show. ABC said earlier this year it would replace “The Chew” with the new “GMA” hour.
“Good Morning America” enjoyed an afternoon presence 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.
“GMA” makes its leap as its battle for viewers with main rival“Today” remains intense. “Good Morning America” remains TV’s most-watched morning program, but “Today, co-anchored by Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie, typically wins more viewers between 25 and 54, the demographic most favored by advertisers. Season to date as of July 13, “Today” has lured 151,000 more viewers between 25 and 54 than its primary competitor, while “GMA” has notched 63,000 more viewers than “Today” overall.
The expansion to afternoons comes as ABC is also working to expand the digital presence for the show. In April, “GMA” launched a morning newsletter and unveiled a revamped “GMA” website that was not tied to ABC News’ content deal with Yahoo. At the time, Michael Corn, “GMA’ senior executive producer, noted that producers often gathered together more information and material than the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. program could handle. “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,” he toldVariety.
Haines will leave “The View” to participate in the new program, marking the second departure of an ABC News correspondent from the program in recent days. ABC News announced earlier this week that Faris would leave her position at the show to do focus on reporting bigger stories. That narrows “The View” table down to four hosts: Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Meghan McCain. Details about the hosts for the third “GMA” hour were reported previously by Page Six.