12:46pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Sochi Olympics Put 'Today' Back on Top
The benefits of NBC's Olympic deal continue to be evident throughout the programming day. Today, which has largely lingered in second place in the morning-show ratings war for the better part of the last two years, is already seeing big wins thanks to live coverage from Sochi.
Monday brought Today's biggest single-day victories over typically dominant Good Morning America since the 2012 Summer Games in London. With an average 2.678 million adults 25-54, it even bucked Sochi's slightly sagging ratings trend with a 3 percent improvement over the comparable Monday during the Vancouver Games.
Today's average in the targeted morning news demographic put it 362,000 viewers head of GMA. And its advantage in the advertiser-friendly group proved even bigger than its win among total viewers. Today averaged 6.293 million viewers -- 349,000 ahead of GMA. It's the show's best delivery since August 2012.
NBC's last go at the Olympics, in 2012, came at a time when the tide was decisively turning in GMA's favor. Ann Curry had only lost her co-host gig two months prior, and Today was still occasionally winning in the demo. The show topped GMA throughout the two-week run in London, but as soon as Matt Lauer & Co. returned to Rockefeller Plaza, Today also ceded its edge to GMA. ABC has been on top, with few exceptions, ever since.
Lauer's new primetime role on NBC -- he'll pinch-hit for Bob Costas, who's suffering from an eye infection, on Tuesday -- could help boost Today's Olympic profile even more. The show has already been attracting all U.S. medal winners as guests. High-profile competitors Shaun White, Julia Mancuso and Gracie Gold have also appeared.
The Today crew also beat GMA in both measures during the first two days of Sochi, Thursday Feb. 6 and Friday Feb. 7.