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It is the end of an era. After more than 16 years and 852 weeks, it appears NBC’s morning-show winning streak has at long last been toppled. According to preliminary Nielsen data, Good Morning America edged out Today by 13,000 viewers for the week ending April 13. GMA averaged 5,147,000 viewers vs. Today’s 5,134,000.
NBC still prevailed by 254,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic on which most news programming is sold. So a one-week win by GMA will not change the financial picture at Today. Still, it gives GMA long-sought bragging rights and fulfills an overriding goal of ABC News president Ben Sherwood, who was executive producer of GMA from 2004-06 before returning to ABC in December 2010 as president of the news division.
ABC News executives are cautiously optimistic that the numbers will hold but stressed that they are preliminary. Final numbers will be in Thursday.
“This is an exciting day, but we will save any celebrating for when the final numbers come in on Thursday,” GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski said. “Like every week, we want to thank our loyal viewers, our stations, our amazing team of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Sam Champion, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and our dedicated staff and crew for getting us to this amazing point.”
Significantly, the GMA win comes during a week when Matt Lauer was on vacation, further underscoring the longtime anchor’s importance to Today, which earns more than $600 million a year in ad revenue. Lauer agreed to a new deal April 5, keeping him at Today for four more years at a reported annual salary of $25 million.
Today executive producer Jim Bell seemed to note the burden of the streak, which dates to 1995.
“Today’s 852-week winning streak had taken on a life of its own, and as odd as it is to see it end, we should acknowledge just how remarkable it has been,” he said. “So as we tip our caps to the team at Good Morning America, we can also take a bow ourselves and recognize the work done by countless staffers for so long. It is not an overstatement to call it one of the most incredible achievements in television history, one that is not likely to ever happen again. While the streak has been wonderful affirmation of our work, it has never defined us, and we will continue to innovate, take chances and lead the way.”
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