‘Today’ Continues Winning Ways for February Sweep

Mar 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

For NBC’s “Today” morning show, three consecutive weeks of viewership increases at the peak of the presidential primary season added up to the widest non-Olympics February sweeps margin of victory in four years.
“Today” averaged 6.06 million total viewers for Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, up 9% compared with the February 2007 sweeps ratings book, according to data from the Nielsen Co. In the key ad-sales demographic of adults 25 to 54 years old, “Today” averaged a 2.4 rating, flat compared with February 2007.
“Today’s” advantage over second-place finisher ABC’s “Good Morning America” for the month was an average of more than 1.1 million viewers.
As recently as October, during a good run of “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC, “GMA” had closed the gap with “Today” to about 300,000 viewers in some weeks.
Reports surfaced last week that “Today’s” lineup may be in for an addition, with Kathy Lee Gifford, formerly of “Live With Regis and Kathy Lee,” being considered for a spot on the show. A “Today” representative said, “We think Kathie Lee Gifford is a tremendous talent, but we have no announcement.” Sources familiar with the show said a deal seems likely.
With Meredith Vieira about halfway through her second year on the “Today” anchor team of Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and Al Roker, executive producer Jim Bell said the pieces all fit together comfortably.
“The team has come together really well, and we’ve just been firing on all cylinders. These are heady days with great numbers and great stories, great bookings, timely segments,” Mr. Bell told TelevisionWeek. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I think the show is as cohesive and in as good a place as it has ever been. Ever.”
When reminded that “ever” includes the years when Jeff Zucker, now the president and CEO of NBC Universal, was executive producer of “Today” and the show was early in its 638-week streak as the No. 1 morning news show, Mr. Bell chuckled and said, “Ever. You can tell him I said it.”
For the week of Feb. 25, “Today” averaged 6.22 million viewers, its highest delivery of total viewers in 53 weeks. On Thursday, Feb. 28, the NBC show beat “GMA” by 2.2 million viewers, its widest one-day margin over the ABC show (excluding Olympics and major anchor changes) since Feb. 6, 2004.
“Today” was the only network morning show to gain viewers (30,000) from a year ago over the course of the sweeps.
“Today” is by far the most profitable NBC News program, earning upwards of $555 million in ad revenues annually according to outside sources, such as data compiled by TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
“Good Morning America” averaged 4.95 million viewers during the sweeps, down 5%, and a 1.8 rating in the 25-54 demo, down 5%.
“A lot of stuff in television was thrown off by the strike this winter. The patterns changed,” “GMA” Senior Executive Producer Jim Murphy said.
“The Early Show” on CBS averaged 3.13 million viewers, with a 1.2 rating in the key demo, a decrease of 3% and an increase of 9%, respectively.
Network advertising rates are calculated in part based on ratings for the sweeps months of February, May and November.

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