“CBS This Morning,” a perennial third-place finisher in the broadcast A.M. news wars, just notched a surprising first-place win.
Thanks to momentum provided by Oprah Winfrey, “CBS This Morning” won more viewers on Monday than either of its main rivals, NBC’s “Today” or ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a rare victory for the CBS early-bird show that demonstrates the ripples that a massive TV event can still have, even in 2021.
Winfrey made an appearance on the show following her must-see Sunday-night interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, a conversation that generated backlash against Britain’s royal family and intense interest in how the duo were faring since their decision to separate from life in the monarchy.
CBS said Monday’s “CBS This Morning” broadcast captured an average of nearly 4.8 million viewers with 1.02 million of them in the demographic most coveted by advertisers, people between the ages of 25 and 54. It’s the first time on record – dating back to the 1990s — that a CBS morning program has defeated both competitors in total viewers and the advertiser demo with a single broadcast.
“We are covering history – and, again, we are making it,” said Susan Zirinsky, president of CBS News, said in a memo to staff on Wednesday. “Our morning broadcast with Gayle King, Anthony Mason, Tony Dokoupil, executive produced by Shawna Thomas and the extremely talented team at CTM, wove an extraordinary interview with Oprah, Harry & Meghan – including exclusive, new never-before-seen material – all throughout the show – dedicating 30 minutes to this globally significant broadcast.”
CBS has changed morning formats and concepts many times over the years, but seems to have found some degree of traction with “CBS This Morning.” The program bills itself as a more serious counterpart to “Good Morning America” and “Today” and tends to avoid morning-show mainstays like cooking segments and outdoor concerts. The show previously enjoyed momentum in the early days of its previous anchor trio, Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell.
In recent weeks, however, the program’s current troika — King. Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil — saw a notable l surge, largely on the back of CBS’ recent broadcast of Super Bowl LV. “CBS This Morning topped “Today” for the first time since 1993 on the Monday following the game broadcast.