Q2 ’21 Morning Show Ratings: GMA, Today Continue to Split First Place

By A.J. Katz 

As has become custom in recent years, Good Morning America and Today show split the morning show ratings race for second quarter. GMA averaged the largest total audience ( 3.28 million) in second quarter of 2021, while Today averaged the most adults 25-54 (907,000). This is according to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

GMA won the second quarter in total viewers for the ninth consecutive year, since Q2 2013.  The broadcast has averaged the largest total audience on morning news for 13 quarters in a row and 34 of the last 36 – The exceptions being Q3 2016 and Q1 2018, when Today received a boost from NBC Olympics coverage.

Compared to the most recent quarter (Q1 2021), GMA shed -6% of its average total audience, and -6% of its A25-54 audience. The drop from a pandemic news-heavy Q2 of 2020 was more substantial. ABC’s morning show shed -17% of its average total viewers and nearly one-quarter of its A25-54 audience from the year-ago quarter (-24%).


What does GMA look like in Q2 2021 compared to four years ago? The program fell by -23% in total viewers and -36% among adults 25-54.

This isn’t shocking. Americans have been fleeing the broadcast morning shows for years now, even prior to the pandemic, with a fair number heading to cable, streaming, newsletters, podcasts, etc. for their dose of news in the mornings. These factors adversely affect morning television’s Nielsen ratings, influencing networks like NBC to develop streaming services dedicated to their morning franchise (Today All Day) so audiences will remain engaged with the brand.

Speaking of NBC, Today (the linear version) was the No. 1 morning show for Q2 in the key A25-54 demo, topping GMA in that key measurement for the 23rd consecutive quarter. That said, NBC’s morning show shed -4% in total viewers and -10% among adults 25-54 from the most-recent quarter. The broadcast shed -16% in total viewers and -24% of its A25-54 audience vs. Q2 2020. Relative to the same quarter four years ago, Today lost -21% of its average total viewers, and -40% of the A25-54 demo audience.

CBS This Morning averaged 2.64 million total viewers in Q2, which is -7% from Q1. The show also averaged 548,000 adults 25-54, which is -14% from Q1.

Relative to Q2 2020, CTM was down by -12% in total viewers and -19% among adults 25-54. And compared to four years ago, CBS This Morning lost one-quarter of its average total audience (-26%), and a whopping -43% among adults 25-54.

Nielsen Live-plus-same-day numbers for Q2, 2021

• Total Viewers: 3,278,000 3,190,000 2,639,000
• A25-54: 848,000 907,000 548,000




We’ve analyzed the quarter, but what did the most recent week look like for broadcast’s morning shows? As usual, Good Morning America averaged the most total viewers, while NBC’s Today show averaged the most viewers in the key A25-54 demo.

According to the most current data from Nielsen, ABC’s morning show averaged 3.23 million total viewers and 816,000 adults 25-54 for each first-run broadcast this past week. Relative to the prior week, (June 14), that’s +1% growth in total viewers, and +1% in adults 25-54. Compared to the same week one year ago (June 22, 2020), GMA shed -10% of its average total audience and -17% of its adults 25-54 audience.

NBC’s Today averaged 872,000 adults 25-54 during the week of June 21. That’s +2% from the prior week, but a -11% decline compared to the same week one year ago. Today also averaged 3.19 million total viewers this past week, which is +2% from the previous week, but -4% from the comparable week in 2020.

Third-place CBS This Morning averaged 2.44 million total viewers but just 447,000 adults 25-54 for the week of June 21. Compared to the prior week, CTM lost -3% in average total viewers, and -5% in adults 25-54. The broadcast shed -6% in average total viewers, and lost one-quarter of its A25-54 audience (-25%) from the year-ago week.

As we’ve mentioned in recent ratings stories, the year-over-year Nielsen ratings decline for all of these shows makes sense. Not only were many Americans more likely to watch the morning shows for breaking news coverage of the pandemic and the election campaign at this time last year, but the overall news cycle is far calmer these days than it was at any point in 2020. We should also expect ratings to decline even more as we move further into summer. But that’s true across TV, not exclusively news.

Nielsen Live-plus-same-day numbers for the week of June 21, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 3,226,000 3,190,000 2,438,000
• A25-54: 816,000 872,000 447,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 6/14/21), Previous Week (w/o 6/7/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 6/15/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20 – 6/20/21) and Most Current: 2019 -2020 Season (9/23/19 – 6/21/20). Live+7/Most Current – 2Q21: 3/29 – 6/27/21, – 2Q20: 3/30 – 6/28/20 and 1Q20: 12/28/20 – 3/28/20. “GMA3” year-ago time slot (“GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke”/”Pandemic-What You Need to Know”/”GMA3: What You Need to Know”). *Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.