It was a headline-filled Q4 of 2017 for broadcast television’s morning shows. And until yesterday, the headlines, to be frank, were not good. Not only were two of the lead male anchors fired as result of sexual harassment allegations, but NBC, CBS, and the ABC morning shows all posted year-over-year audience losses on weekday mornings.
But to be fair, improving upon ratings from a quarter which included a presidential election is no easy feat.
According to “most current data” from Nielsen, Good Morning America remained the most-watched morning newscast (though its margin of victory over Today in total viewers rather minuscule, as you’ll find below). For GMA, Q4 2017 represents 6 straight years of Q4 victories, and the program has now won 21 of the last 22 quarters in total viewers.
The averages for Q4 2017: (Nielsen “Most Current” data)
- Total Viewers: ABC: 4.320 M / NBC: 4.318 M / CBS: 3.589 M
- A25-54 viewers: ABC: 1.372 M / NBC: 1.536 M / CBS: 950 k
On the downside, GMA was -7 percent in total viewers and -11 percent in the key news demo versus Q4 2016.
Here’s where it gets interesting. If one measures total audience by using Nielsen live+same-day data, it’s actually Today that comes out on top in total viewers (also by a minuscule margin).
The averages for Q4 2017 (Nielsen Live+Same Day data)
- Total Viewers: ABC: 4.312 M / NBC: 4.313 M / CBS: 3.585 M
- A25-54 viewers: ABC: 1.369 M / NBC: 1.535 M / CBS: 949 k
We’ll let the networks argue amongst themselves when it comes to who actually won.
The Today show’s difficult quarter, highlighted by the Matt Lauer scandal and subsequent departure showed up in the ratings. Despite yet another quarterly victory among younger news viewers, including the coveted A25-54 group, the program was -6 percent in total viewers, and -14 percent in the news demo from Q4 of last year.
CBS This Morning had a rough quarter as well. Charlie Rose fired from CBS News due to allegations of sexual harassment, and the program struggled in the ratings department. CTM was -3 percent in total viewers and -15 percent in the news demo.
Let’s move to ratings for the week of Dec. 25, 2017, which resulted in 5 consecutive weekly victories for Today show.
The NBC morning show averaged nearly 4.1 million total viewers for the week of Dec. 25, 2017. But that 4.1 million average only includes data from two broadcasts: Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Thursday Dec. 28. Monday (Christmas morning), Tuesday and Friday ratings for the Today show were excluded from the weekly averages.
Good Morning America, on the other hand, counted ratings for its Tuesday – Friday broadcasts. If Today counted audience figures on the same days as GMA did, the latter would have beat the former in total audience by 58,000.
Today was technically +2 percent in total viewers, and -6 percent in the news demo versus Christmas week 2016, which also happened to be the first week of the 2017 Nielsen calendar.
GMA was -10 percent in total viewers, and -15 percent in the news demo versus last year.
CBS This Morning, which, like NBC, only counted ratings for Wednesday and Thursday, was -3 percent in total viewers and -14 percent in the demo versus last year.
The averages for Week of Dec. 25, 2017:
- Total Viewers: ABC: 3.924 M / NBC: 4.068 M / CBS: 3.203 M
- A25-54 viewers: ABC: 1.132 M / NBC: 1.317 M / CBS: 785 k