Variety’s Brian Steinberg takes an inside look at the behind-the-scenes battle between first-place “Good Morning America” and second-place “Today.” Although reclaiming the top spot has become “nothing short of a mania inside NBCUniversal,” Steinberg writes the two shows are not as different as the talent and executives may say:
Just as Coke and Pepsi sell a similar fizzy brown liquid, so too are “GMA” and “Today” pouring from the same pot of coffee into different mugs. “GMA” can be equally as serious as “Today” in its first hour when news warrants. For every trip that “Today’s” Guthrie makes to interview Secretary of State Kerry, there is a sojourn by “GMA’s” Robach to Nigeria to explore the plight of captive schoolgirls. For every “GMA” report on two sisters who survive being knocked off their paddleboards and drifting out to sea, there is a “Today” interview with a young man who shed 550 pounds. “GMA” recently featured a contest among local firefighting squads; after Lauer was doused in ice water on a charity dare from golfer Greg Norman, “Today” dispatched Guthrie and Lauer to Howard Stern’s XM Satellite Radio show to get the shock jock to take Lauer’s challenge.
“I know we’re doing something right,” says “Today’s” Roker, “because two or three months later, we’ll see it on ‘GMA.’ We have our ‘Orange Room,’ and oh my gosh, look at that, they’ve got a ‘Social Square!’ ” One could argue that “GMA” began showing the entire on-air team on camera well before “Today” took a similar approach.[…] “I do think we are a little more substantive,” [Today EP Don] Nash says. “If you asked most people, they would say we are a little more focused on the news than is ‘Good Morning America.’ ” [Robin] Roberts scoffs at that notion. “You pick up a newspaper or pick up a magazine — there are fun articles and there are heavy sections, and we are no different. I think you get out of us what it is you need.”