‘GMA’ is slowly starting to win the demo — in addition to total viewers — over ‘Today’
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It looks like the morning news wars are about to heat up even more.
That, however, has flipped in month of May 2022, which also happens to be one of the most key ratings periods of the year.
To be sure, the margins are still thin — “GMA” lead “Today” in the demo by as low as 10,000 viewers but as high as 62,000. Despite the former number being the population of a small town, it’s still relatively smaller compared to the millions of viewers these shows can draw.
“Today,” however, had been slowly losing ground to “GMA” and its margins in the demo had similarly been shrinking.
“GMA” and “Today” have been locked in a head-to-head race in recent years, with CBS’s morning offering (which has changed names and anchors) in third.
For years prior to the rise of “GMA,” “Today” dominated the morning ratings, claiming the top spot for years running (though in at least some cases, below the radar tricks such as retitling the show and removing national commercial breaks from the show were used to keep that record untarnished).
“GMA” has likely benefitted from a stable and popular anchor lineup along with a solid supporting cast of talent who can step in when one of the primary anchors is out.
“Today” has seen its fortunes slip since Katie Couric left in 2006. It managed to keep ratings relatively stable with Meredith Vieira at the anchor desk, but a transition to Ann Curry after Vieira left proven disastrous. NBC had to act quickly to move Savannah Guthrie into the chair beside Lauer, which helped stabilize things a bit.
There was also Matt Lauer — a once hugely popular anchor who was fired in 2017 for alleged sexual misconduct. Lauer continued to deny any wrongdoing.
NBC eventually opted to replace Lauer with another female — Hoda Kotb — alongside Guthrie.
Meanwhile, the network also took a page from “GMA” and started stocking its anchor roster with other names, elevating personalities such as Al Roker to more duties than just the weather, while also adding Carson Daly and Craig Melvin and others (Billy Bush was there for a bit but fell victim to the “Access Hollywood” Donald Trump “grab them” tape), including Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones to the mix. Melvin has also since been made de facto co-anchor, typically rolling up to the anchor desk mid-show alongside Kotb and Guthrie, though he has yet to be added to the open, which would signal a more official role as bona fide co-anchor.
Both “GMA” and “Today” seem to be hoping that adding a wide mix of personalities, each with their own style and skills, gives viewers a little of everything — and perhaps hoping viewers stick around even if they aren’t fond of a particular anchor in hopes that their favorite might be up next.