‘GMA’ Shrinks Gap with ‘Today’ to Lowest in 4 Years

By Merrill Knox 

Bloomberg has an interesting look today at the increasingly competitive morning show ratings battle. As we’ve reported, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has seen major growth in the past year, shrinking the gap that divides them from the perennial morning show leader, NBC’s “Today,” to a four-year low. Although NBC still leads ABC by about 500,000 viewers in two ratings categories — total viewers and the A25-54 demographic — Bloomberg examines some key factors in the “GMA” surge:

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, hosts of “Good Morning America,” are connecting with audiences after the show’s long-tenured hosts, Charles Gibson and [Diane] Sawyer, left in 2006 and 2009, according to James Goldston, who took over as executive producer five months ago.

Goldston said “Good Morning America” has revamped its cooking segments and other standing features to make them less predictable and more distinctive. The program has also introduced a daily entertainment segment.

“We’ve got a show that is working very well,” Goldston said. “We’re heading into the fall and the future with more confidence.”

“Today,” however,  still has the upper hand with advertisers. Bloomberg also notes the NBC morning show has been propelled through talent changes in the past by their loyal audience:

NBC, with a half-million more viewers in total and a similar advantage in the age demographic, commands higher ad rates. A 30-second “Today” spot was priced at an average of $67,900 in May compared with $41,400 for ABC, according to Nielsen data supplied by Adgate.

“Today” has seen its lead dwindle with past talent changes, only to recover later. The show will enjoy a unique promotional opportunity next July when NBC airs the Olympics from London, according to Adgate.

“The only number that matters is the demo,” Jim Bell, the executive producer of “Today,” said in an interview. “Our advantage over our competitors since Ann [Curry] joined has only grown. I’m not sure what further evidence we’d need. That’s a resounding endorsement.”