NBC’s “Today” show kept alive its historic winning streak in the morning daypart last week, fending off a challenge by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and former “Today” co-host Katie Couric with what turned out to be surprising ease.
“Today’s” domination of the morning ratings is the longest winning streak in TV history, as previously reported. The NBC show has been No. 1 every week since December 1995, with the streak now reaching 850 weeks. Couric’s weeklong appearance on “GMA” was widely seen as an attempt by ABC to end that streak.
But “GMA” has been closing the gap, and while it failed to topple “Today” with a week of Couric’s guest-hosting — and in fact, “Today” widened its lead over “GMA” last week — the long-term trend continues to favor the ABC morning show.
Before last week’s showdown, “GMA” was trailing “Today” by only about 137,000 total viewers. That number grew last week, to about 260,000 viewers a day through the first four days, according to Nielsen estimates, with “Today” averaging 5.21 million to 4.95 million for “GMA.”
The NBC show’s advantage was even greater last week in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, where “Today” was up by about 320,000 viewers a day — 2.19 million to 1.87 million — through the first four days.
Even with Couric in the house at ABC, “Today” won three of the first four days of the week in total viewers, falling short only on Wednesday, when NBC’s “big get” was Ryan Seacrest announcing he would be helping out with the network’s Olympics coverage this summer (and not taking a spot on “Today,” as some observers had speculated).
In the 25-54 demo, NBC had a clean sweep, with “Today” winning all four days.
CBS has barely been mentioned in the focus on the battle between “GMA” and “Today,” but that’s because its rebranded morning show, now called “CBS This Morning,” remains a distant third in the ratings. Its average for the last week in March was 2.42 million total viewers.
In the big picture, ABC’s “GMA” has cut “Today’s” advantage by about 40% this season in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo, and the margin is down to the levels of circa 1995 — the last time “GMA” beat “Today” for a whole week.