The afternoon extension of the network’s “Good Morning America” is getting a new name and look, according to a person familiar with the matter. Audience members present at Monday morning’s taping of the program will notice a new set and logo that tamp down the emphasis on the show’s links to ABC’s morning flagship and place more significance on hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines.
The show has been re-titled “Strahan and Sara,” this person said. ABC News declined to make executives available for comment.
ABC News, which oversees “GMA,” launched the 1 p.m. program on the fly in September, betting that the duo could extend the network’s morning juggernaut to the afternoon, creating new opportunities for advertisers and affiliates in the process. “Good Morning America” fetched more than $350 million in ad revenue in 2017, according to Kantar Media, a tracker of ad spending.
Media buyers see the program as something akin to the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today” show, which is better known as “Kathie Lee and Hoda,” reflecting the names of its hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb (Gifford is slated to step down from that program in April and Jenna Bush Hager is seen as a leading candidate to succeed her).
There is room for ABC’s new show to grow. Viewership for the program has not matched that of the show it replaced, “The Chew.” That series, which focused on food and health and included chef Mario Batali among its talent lineup, regularly captured more than 2 million viewers. “GMA Day” has typically averaged between 1.7 million and 1.9 million, according to figures from Nielsen.
Internally, however, executives have been encouraged by steady audience numbers for the new entry. Many new shows get a big spike at the start and then see numbers fall off significantly. But “GMA Day” ratings have churned in a narrow range.
There have been bumps along the way. Kevin Wildes, a former ESPN executive, was named the show’s producer in August, but stepped away a few months ago. Rory Albanese, the former executive producer of Comedy Central’s “Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore, is now overseeing operations.
But ABC has always viewed the newly-christened “Strahan and Sara” a a work in progress, this person said. The show came together quickly and its debut was seen as a “soft launch.” The expectation has always been that the series would be tweaked along the way as producers and hosts found out what worked best.
The new title will lend the program some distinction in the market. At the same time, “GMA” remains part of the logo, and the show, which is taped with a live audience in ABC’s “Good Morning America” studio in Times Square, is still considered part of the “GMA” operation.
ABC and the two hosts have banked on the new program to bolster their stature and wring more money out of the “GMA” franchise, which snares less advertising than chief rival “Today” on NBC. Strahan and Haines have vowed to present a high-energy program that delivers viewers fun and inspiration.
Haines left a spot at “The View” to launch the new show. Strahan, who in the past got Mondays off at flagship “GMA” to give him time to recuperate from his Sunday-night football duties for Fox Sports, has been working that day on the afternoon show. If successful, the program would give ABC another block in a formidable lineup of daytime programs that include “The View” as well as the syndicated “Live” with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. ABC is set to launch another syndicated daytime hour with former “Today” co-host Tamron Hall in the fall.