Week of May 17 Morning Show Ratings: GMA Widens Lead in Total Viewers to Its Largest Since February

By A.J. Katz 

ABC’s Good Morning America finished the week of May 17 with the largest average total audience on morning TV, while NBC’s Today averaged the most adults 25-54.

A pretty consistent trend over these past 8-9 years.

GMA averaged more than 3.5 million total viewers this past week, outperforming Today by an average of +153,000, widening its lead both week-to-week (+4%) and year-over-year (+446%) to earn its largest margin of victory in the measurement since the week of February 15, 2021.


Additionally, on Wednesday, May 19, GMA delivered its most-watched telecast (3.57 million) in over 2 monthssince March 12.  Additionally, the ABC morning show posted its largest single-day win over its NBC competitor (+486,000 – 3.57 million vs. 3.085 million) since the week of June 14, 2019, based on regular telecasts.

GMA averaged 811,000 viewers from the key A25-54 demo, and finished No. 1 in that measurement on Wednesday and Friday.

The ABC morning show lost -1% of its adults 25-54 audience from the prior week , but stayed flat in total viewers. However, compared to the same week one year ago (May 18, 2020), it shed -12% of its average total viewers and was also down -13% in A25-54.

NBC’s Today show, on the other hand, averaged 911,000 viewers from the adults 25-54 demo, marking a whopping 91 consecutive weeks as the No. 1 morning show in that key measurement. Today also averaged 3.2 million total viewers this past week, and averaged a larger total audience than GMA on Monday and Thursday.

The NBC morning show held steady from the prior week in total viewers, but shed -3% in adults 25-54. Compared to the same week one year ago, the program fell more than its competitors, losing -14% in total viewers and -16% in adults 25-54.

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

In general, Americans have been fleeing the broadcast morning shows for years now, even prior to the pandemic, with a fair number heading to cable, newsletters, podcasts, etc. in the A.M.

Third-place CBS This Morning averaged nearly 2.6 million total viewers and 542,000 adults 25-54 for the week of May 17.

Compared to the week of May 10, that’s a drop off of -4% in total viewers, and -6% among adults 25-54.  The broadcast dropped by -12% in average total viewers, and also -15% in adults 25-54 compared to the year-ago week.

Despite posting more significant week-to-week losses than its competitors, CBS This Morning is still delivering the narrowest season-to-date gaps with the competition in total viewers and the 25-54 demo dating back to 1991. As the above numbers make clear, this doesn’t mean CTM’s ratings are skyrocketing, it just means that the show’s year-over-year losses are less severe than what GMA and Today have been experiencing.

Nielsen Live-plus-same-day numbers for the week of May 17, 2021

• Total Viewers: 3,353,000 3,200,000 2,573,000
• A25-54: 885,000 911,000 542,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 5/17/21), Previous Week (w/o 5/10/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 5/18/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20 – 5/23/21) and Most Current: 2019 -2020 Season (9/23/19 – 5/25/20). *Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.