“This is an exciting day, but we will save any celebrating for when the final numbers come in on Thursday,” senior exec producer Tom Cibrowski said Monday in a statement, in which he thanked viewers and the “GMA” team.
“ ‘Today’s’ 852-week winning streak had taken on a life of its own, and as odd as it is to see it end, we should acknowledge just how remarkable it has been,” Jim Bell, “Today’s” executive producer, said in a statement.
“GMA” has been gaining on “Today” all season. In mid-September, about 400,000 viewers separated the two programs. In four of the past six weeks, however, the margin had narrowed to less than half that, prompting The Reporters Who Cover Television to start prepping their end-of-an-era stories. Just prior to Couric’s guest gig (the week of March 26), 119,000 viewers were all that kept those reporters from hitting the “publish” button.
The return of regular “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts from vacation helped lift the show’s overall numbers last week by 5 percent, compared with the previous week, when Katie filled in. (Katie is prepping a daytime syndicated talk show for ABC-parent Disney that will launch in the fall — hence the week-long guest gig.)
Also boosting the show’s ratings last week: the surprise elimination Tuesday night of ABC daytime darling Sherri Shepherd from the network’s prime-time hit “Dancing With the Stars.”
Each Wednesday morning, “GMA” interviews the celebrity booted from the dance competition the night before; those Wednesday editions are generally the show’s most-watched all week.
“GMA” has been known to beat “Today” on Wednesdays during “Dancing” season; during Couric’s guest gig, for instance, “GMA” scored 122,000 more viewers than “Today” on Wednesday. One week later, with Shepherd’s exit interview, “GMA” tripled that advantage.
Early numbers show that “Today” was continuing to edge out “GMA” last week among the 25- to 54-year-olds who are the currency of news programming ad sales — although by the smallest margin in more than six years.
And for the record books, more people of all ages watched “GMA” than “Today.”
Some 5.147 million people welcomed Robin back last week (Katie had clocked 4.922 million).
By comparison, “Today” tallied 5.134 million viewers last week, according to fast national numbers. That’s 25,000 better than a week earlier, when “Today” lined up an all-star cast to hang on to its ratings record, including Sarah Palin, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian, Tori Spelling, Nicki Minaj and “surprise legend” Meredith Vieira — plus Matt Lauer’s big announcement that he’d stick around a few more years, at a reported salary of nearly $30 million a year.