'Today' vs. 'GMA': Too Close to Call a Winner in Morning Show Wars

9:00 AM PST 06/08/2012 by Marisa Guthrie

It's hard to keep track of the ratings seesaw between the ABC and NBC morning shows.

This story first appeared in the June 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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It's hard to keep track of the ratings seesaw between the ABC and NBC morning shows in the weeks since GMA snapped Today's 16-plus-year winning streak in April.

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For those keeping score, GMA has picked off three additional weeks. But critically, Today is dominant in the 25-to-54 demo, winning 891 consecutive weeks as of May 25. (The relaunched CBS This Morning continues to lag.)

Still, Today's Matt Lauer admitted May 30 that the show and its ratings are not where "I want them to be right now." And GMA has momentum, landing big interviews including Robin Roberts' sit-down with President Obama about gay marriage.

Ad buyers polled by THR, however, say the ratings back-and-forth has not triggered a radical shift in strategy during the upfronts. (In 2011, GMA brought in $598 million in ad revenue, compared with Today's $612 million, according to Kantar Media.)

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The ABC sales team, says one buyer, "is out there promoting [GMA's win over Today] pretty hard." But even if buyers aren't tracking the weekly battle, "this was something for 800-some-odd weeks we fought for," says GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski.

"The buzz we get out of these wins is worth its weight in gold."

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