Good Morning America began the new television season as the undisputed No. 1 morning show in the country by beating The Today Show.
While this continues a trend that began at the end of June, when Ann Curry was abruptly dropped from The Today Show, it gives GMA a leg up as they try to end Today’s lock as the top morning show for the past 16 years. Despite losing every week since Curry left, Today still managed to finish No.1 overall for the television season that just ended.
Not only did Today lose to GMA, but they lost badly. GMA averaged 5.1 million viewers a day versus 4.3 million at Today. This is the biggest audience loss at Today since they recaptured the top slot from GMA in 1995.
NBC has tried to blame the rapid decline on the poor prime time performance of the NBC network, friction behind the scenes at Today, and the tabloid nature of GMA. But the real reason seems to be the departure of Curry. Except for the time during the Olympics, Today hasn’t won a week since she left.
Even worse for Today is that GMA managed to beat them without anchor Robin Roberts, who left the show on August 30 to begin preparations for a bone marrow transplant.
In the last year, Today went from an average daily 420,000 viewer advantage over GMA to an 808,000 viewer deficit—a turnaround of 1.2 million viewers. Overall Today’s audience is down 20 percent from last year, and 28 percent in the key A25-54 demo.
Today’s ratings may have dropped since Curry took over for Meredith Vieira, but at least when she left the show was still No 1.