2005: “Fierce” Morning Show Wars

By Brian 

Good Morning America beat The Today Show in softball, but NBC beat ABC in the ratings. Here’s how the morning show wars happened this year:

> Dec. 26: Today was “rocked” earlier this year, but “we got our groove back,” Phil Griffin says

> Dec. 13: “It’s not a sexy story to report,” Jeff Zucker says, “but The Today Show” still dominates

> Dec. 5: Today celebrates ten years in first place

> Nov. 9: Matt Lauer goes around the world for ratings

> Oct. 17: NBC introduces stunts to keep the gap from tightening

> Sept. 29: Today & GMA in a “compassion competition” post-hurricanes

> Sept. 28: Jon Friedman says “morning shows have become a joke”

> Sept. 15: GMA is married to Desperate Housewives

> July 22: GMA comes from behind to beat Today in annual softball game

> July 14: Today celebrates 500 weeks in first place; ABC sends balloons

> June 24: Today is more “off-the-cuff,” not so scripted

> June 23: The gap widens week after week

> June 15: Today is “demonstrably better” post-Touchet, Zucker says

> June 9: Fox & Friends is more popular than the CBS Early Show, a Zogby poll says

> June 7: NBC notices an upward trend as the gap starts increasing

> May 29: New York Mag’s “Divas at Dawn” article profiles the “catfight”

> May 23: Today hits rock bottom but squeaks by with another win; Meanwhile, a staffing shakeup continues at NBC

> May 23: Ben Sherwood says: “They will fight most fiercely. We will fight most fiercely”

> May 19: 40,000 viewers separate Today and GMA

> May 12: Zucker says Today needs to be “freshened”

> May 10: GMA tops Today for two straight days of sweeps

> May 5: Imagining the perfect morning show

> May 2: “In talent terms, the scales tip towards GMA,” Tom Shales says

> Apr. 26: “Battle of the bands” between Today and GMA

> Apr. 25: Alessandra Stanley files her infamous column about Katie Couric and Today; an “enraged” NBCer responds; The NYT public editor calls it “gratuitously nasty”

> Apr. 21: The NBC/ABC gap tightens to 270,000 — the smallest since 1996

> Apr. 20: An NBC exec says: “Let’s be honest, we don’t like to see numbers that are that low. We don’t like that the gap is get
ting smaller”

> Apr. 18: Good Morning America is on a “steady rise”

> Mar. 28: Jeff Zucker is “spending a lot of mornings in the control booth at Today”

> Mar. 14: Police have to restrain a booker for GMA during a Today interview; It was the booker’s first assignment ever for ABC; Later, an NBC producer explains what happened