Q1 2021 Morning Show Ratings: GMA, Today Continue to Split First Place, While CBS This Morning Delivers Ratings Growth

By A.J. Katz 

Good Morning America and Today show split the morning show ratings race in the first quarter of 2021, as GMA once again averaged the largest total audience (3.5 million), while Today delivered the most adults 25-54 (1 million).

GMA won the 1st quarter in total viewers for the 8th time in the last nine years.  The broadcast has averaged the largest total audience for 12 quarters in a row and 33 of the last 35 – The exceptions being Q3 2016 and Q1 2018, when Today received a boost from NBC Olympics coverage.

ABC’s morning show beat its NBC rival by an average of +148,000 total viewers in Q1 2021, more than doubling its lead over the year-ago quarter (+114%; vs. +69,000 for Q1 2020) to its largest 1st quarter lead in 4 years – since Q1 2017.


Compared to the prior quarter (Q4 2020),  GMA shed -1% of its average total audience, and -4% of its A25-54 audience. The drop from a news-heavy Q1 of 2020 was more substantial, as expected. ABC’s morning show shed -11% of its total viewers and nearly a quarter (-23%) of its A25-54 audience.

NBC’s Today was was the No. 1 morning show in the key A25-54 demo for the quarter, topping GMA in that measurement for the 22nd consecutive quarter. The NBC morning show managed to grow its demo lead over GMA versus the prior quarter.

Today fell -1% in total viewers and -3% among adults 25-54. The broadcast shed -14% in total viewers and -22% of its A25-54 audience vs. Q1 2020.

CBS This Morning was the only morning show to deliver growth from the previous quarter, improving by +3% in total viewers and +2% in the key demo. It managed to deliver its smallest first quarter viewership gap ever with Today and GMA.

One highlight for CTM in Q1 was the record-setting ratings for its March 8 broadcast, which featured an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey the morning after her Prince Harry and Meghan Markle special aired on the network. Relative to Q1 2020, CTM was down -7% in total viewers and -15% among adults 25-54.

Nielsen Live-plus-same-day numbers for Q1, 2021

• Total Viewers: 3,486,000 3,338,000 2,830,000
• A25-54: 903,000 1,006,000 635,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD. Most Current – 1Q21: 12/28/20 – 3/28/21, 1Q20: 12/30/19 – 3/29/20 and 4Q20: 9/21 – 12/27/20. *Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing.  Averages based on regular telecasts.