The usual story on non-Olympics weeks over the past 8-9 years is that Good Morning America has been the most-watched show on morning TV, while Today show has been tops among adults 25-54.
That wasn’t the case this past week. GMA finished No. 1 among adults 25-54 and total viewers for the first time since 2019. The broadcast also finished No. 1 among total viewers, adults 25-54 and the rarely-cited adults 18-49 demo for the first time since the week of August 3, 2015.
According to the most current data from Nielsen, GMA averaged 867,000 adults 25-54 last week, which is +25,000 more than Today, snapping the NBC morning show’s 92-week winning streak in the key news demo with its largest margin of victory since the week of Aug. 26, 2019.
GMA also averaged 3.29 million total viewers this past week, outperforming Today by an average of +181,000.
Relative to the prior week (May 24), Good Morning America grew by +4% in adults 25-54, but shed -1% in total viewers. Compared to the same week one year ago (June 1, 2020), ABC’s morning show shed -12% of its average total audience and fell -17% 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 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 the weather improves and we approach summer. But that’s true across TV.
Additionally, 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 morning, which adversely effects their Nielsen linear ratings.
As previously mentioned, NBC’s Today earned a rare second place finish in the demos this past week. Was this a flash in the pan, or a portend of things to come? Likely the former, but you never know. GMA has been closing the gap in terms of demo viewers season to-date.
The NBC morning show averaged 3.11 million total viewers and 842,000 adults 25-54 during the week of May 24. That’s -3% in total viewers and -7% among adults 25-54 vs. the prior week. Compared to the same week one year ago, the program fell -15% in total viewers and -24% in adults 25-54.
NBC News is hoping to combat ratings issues by bringing the content to where its fans are (aka. streaming). The network announced Tuesday that it will be launching a slew of original programming on Today All Day, its ad-supported streaming service devoted exclusively to the network’s long-running morning franchise.
Third-place CBS This Morning averaged nearly 2.55 million total viewers and 521,000 adults 25-54 for the week of May 31. Compared to the prior week, CTM lost -1% in average total viewers, and -3% in adults 25-54. The broadcast dropped -10% in average total viewers, and -19% in adults 25-54 from the year-ago week.
Despite these losses, CBS This Morning is delivering the narrowest season-to-date gaps with the competition in total viewers and the 25-54 demo dating back to 1991. However, as the above numbers make clear, this doesn’t mean CTM’s ratings are exactly skyrocketing, it just means that the show’s year-over-year losses are less severe than what GMA and Today have been experiencing.
Finally, ABC’s, NBC’s and CBS’ weekly ratings averages are based on four days (Tuesday-Friday), not five, due to Memorial Day (Monday, May 31). The networks decided to code the Monday broadcasts as specials.
Nielsen Live-plus-same-day numbers for the week of May 31, 2021
|• Total Viewers:||3,289,000||3,108,000||2,552,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 5/31/21), Previous Week (w/o 5/24/21) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 6/1/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20 – 6/6/21) and Most Current: 2019 -2020 Season (9/23/19 – 6/7/20). *Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.