'Today' win streak: 12 years


NEW YORK -- "Today" continued making history Thursday, with the breakfast telecast cementing 12 years of week in, week out dominance.

It's the first time a morning show has been No. 1 in the ratings for so long and marks the current longest winning streak in broadcast TV. That's 626 weeks, since Dec. 11, 1995.

"Today" won the week of Dec. 3 with an average of 6 million viewers, its most since Feb. 12, and the margin of victory was the widest over second-place "Good Morning America" since March 26. "GMA" had 5.1 million viewers, and CBS' "The Early Show" averaged 3.1 million viewers. "Today" was also ahead in adults 25-54.

While it looked like the streak would be over in 1995 as "Good Morning America" mounted a strong charge, "Today" received a new lease on life under then-new executive producer Jim Bell and weathered the loss of Katie Couric and the introduction of Meredith Vieira as Couric's replacement. While there have been some close calls since then, "Today" remains with the lead.

Meanwhile, "Nightline" made history of its own, beating both "The Tonight Show" and "Late Show With David Letterman" for the second week, according to data released Thursday by Nielsen Media Research.

It was the first time "Nightline" had been on top for two weeks in a row since May 1995. Both "Tonight" and "Late Show" have been in repeats since early November, thanks to the writers strike.

That's been good news for "Nightline," which has seen double-digit increases in audience at the same time that its competition has seen double-digit declines. "Nightline" is up 23% in adults 25-54 compared to a year ago, and up 16% in viewership.

For the week ended last Friday, "Nightline" averaged 3.9 million viewers to "Tonight's" 1.5 million viewers and "Late Show's" 1.4 million.