Where Have the Morning Show Viewers Gone? (Hint: Some to CBS)

By Chris Ariens 

Three years ago this month, “Good Morning America” broke the “Today” show’s 16-year winning streak. “GMA” has held that lead, and has been on a pretty nice ride since.

But in the just-completed first quarter of 2015, “GMA” lost viewers compared to Q1 2014. At the same time, “GMA” had its biggest 1st quarter advantage over its morning rival, NBC’s “Today” show, in 22 years. This tells us one thing: “Today” has lost viewers, too. While “GMA” is down -6% in viewers and down -12% in the demo, “Today” is down even more: -8% and -13%, respectively.

“GMA” has shown slight growth (+3% / +1%) compared to Q1 2013. During that period, the ABC show was continuing to build momentum, with a solid anchor team in place. Since then, two primary players have left the show: Sam Champion departed in Dec. 2103 and Josh Elliott bolted for NBC one year ago this week.

cbsthismorning304So if some of the bloom is wearing off the “GMA” rose, NBC’s once long-dominant “Today” show isn’t seeing the benefit.

The third network morning entry, however, is. “CBS This Morning” is up +9% in viewers vs. Q1 2014 and up 21% in viewers vs. Q1 2013. “CTM’s” demo viewership is virtually unchanged: up +1% vs. 2014, and flat vs. 2013.

So as we’ve seen in this cyclical, finicky business: for now, some viewers are going elsewhere for their morning fix: to local news, to cable news, to their iPads, or other mobile devices. Still, the three network shows, which might be the most diverse in terms of programming that we’ve seen in a long while, still draw a combined 14 million viewers each morning. They employ hundreds of people and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for their networks every year. That’s staying power.

Here are the ratings for Q1 2015:

  • Total Viewers: ABC: 5.541M / NBC: 4.961M / CBS: 3.435M
  • A25-54 viewers: ABC: 2.051M / NBC: 1.921M / CBS: 1.074M