9:53am PT by Michael O'Connell
Viewers Tune In for 'Today' Matt Lauer Fallout
It appears more viewers are interested to see how Today is handling the swift departure of Matt Lauer than they were to watch the longtime anchor at the desk. Today's audience and ratings spiked in the wake of his Nov. 27 ouster.
For the week, Today dominated the broadcast morning shows by all measures — even scoring a rare audience win with an average 4.9 million viewers. Viewership peaked Wednesday, the day after Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced on air that NBC had severed ties with Lauer following claims of sexual misconduct in the workplace, with more than 5.7 million viewers.
Today has been behind ABC's Good Morning America in the total viewers race since 2012. It has since reclaimed its advantage among adults 25-54, daytime's targeted demographic, but the wins are by narrower margins than in the past. For the most recent week, Today remained above an also-improved GMA with an average 1.7 million in the demo — which amounts to a robust 1.4 rating.
The previous week, CBS This Morning saw mild bumps for its own fallout of Charlie Rose getting the ax for similar reasons — though it still ranked No. 3.
Ratings lifts for Today come on during a season that's seen overall fatigue for all three of the big morning shows. GMA's and Today's overall viewership is down 7 percent, year over year, while CBS' is down just 2 percent. All three have seen double-digit drops in the demo.
All of the interest in how NBC would handle the end of the Lauer era, and the sordid reasons for it, is no surprise. What's most interesting now is the question of where all of these viewers will go in the new daytime landscape — one that has seen the loss of two lead anchors in a matter of days.