Gap Narrows Between ‘GMA’ and Top-Rated ‘Today’

Left: Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos; Right: Matt Lauer and Ann Curry (Photos: ABC, NBC)

Left: Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos; Right: Matt Lauer and Ann Curry (Photos: ABC, NBC)

The morning ratings race between ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” show is waking up.

With the new network TV season nearing the end of its third week, “GMA” is putting out ratings comparisons with the same weeks a year ago that show the ABC morning show gaining on perennial morning champ NBC.

For example, in its weekly ratings press release issued Thursday (Oct. 6) covering the week before (Sept. 26-30), “GMA” pointed out that the gap between it and the “Today” show stood at 417,000 viewers for that week – 4.689 million for “GMA” and 5.106 million for “Today.” A year ago, the gap was 945,000, the “GMA” release notes.

It was even more dramatic a week earlier. In that press release – issued Thursday, Sept. 29, for the week of Sept. 19-23 – “GMA” noted that the gap between the two was just 397,000 viewers – 5.24 million for “Today” and 4.843 million for “GMA.” A year earlier, it was 1.129 million.

The narrower gaps in viewership so far this season could be significant since they come at a time when “Today” is starting its first full season with Ann Curry as full-time co-host. She replaced the popular Meredith Vieira last spring and it was thought at the time that the succession would be seamless since Curry had already been a long-time news anchor and personality seen for years on the morning show.

But it’s also possible that Vieira’s exit resulted in at least some viewers looking elsewhere for their morning television fix, and landing on “GMA” with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Of course, many other factors have an effect on ratings in morning news, particularly the guest lineups, story choices, outdoor concerts and the like. And on all those fronts, the competition between NBC and ABC remains fierce.

For the record, CBS’s “Early Show” continues to lag behind the other two. Last week, “The Early Show” averaged 2.525 million viewers daily.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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