NBC’s ‘Today’ show has beaten ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ in average weekly viewers ever since Matt Lauer was fired. Experts say the female co-anchors are poised to keep ‘Today’ in first place.
They’re the co-hosts with the most.
Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb are keeping the “Today” show’s recent ratings streak alive.
The dynamic duo was No. 1 in the ratings for both total viewers (4.465 million) and the coveted 25 to 54-year-old demographic (1.576M) during their first week officially anchoring the morning news show together.
Kotb formally took over Matt Lauer’s position on Jan. 2, just a little more than a month after he was fired for alleged sexual misconduct. In fact, more people have been tuning into NBC’s morning show since Lauer was axed than they have in months. “Today” has beaten rival ABC’s “Good Morning America” – the former a.m. ratings ringleader – for six weeks in a row.
“Today’s” viewership peaked at 5.7 million on Nov. 30, the day that the show revealed Lauer had been let go, when Kotb was called in last-minute to co-anchor the newscast with Guthrie. That turned out to be a match made in viewership heaven.
“Hoda is a perfect fit. She has good chemistry with Savannah, viewers love her, she’s a likable personality — she was the absolute perfect choice to fill that role,” Marc Berman, editor-in-chief of Programming Insider, told Moneyish.
While former New York Daily News columnist and TV critic David Hinckley noted that “Today’s” initial ratings bump after Lauer was canned came from “TV rubbernecking — viewers craning their necks at the sight of a wreck to see if there’s something juicy to look at,” the program has hit upon a new recipe for success that could keep audiences tuned in.
“Matt Lauer took up so much oxygen in the room,” he told Moneyish. “Hoda has been a reporter for a long time, and she’s good at it. She has been a co-host with Kathie Lee Gifford [during “Today’s” fourth hour], so she understands balancing between two people, and not being the alpha. And I think she is loving the opportunity to get her teeth into more substantial stuff on the 7 and 8 o’clock hours, and it shows. Now there is a brightness, a joyfulness and happiness to the show that I attribute to Savannah and Hoda hosting together.”
Berman agreed. “It’s very refreshing to see two women anchoring the ‘Today’ show, because it’s never happened before,” he said. “This decision was NBC saying, ‘We don’t have to follow the traditional mold, we don’t have to bring a guy in who looks like Matt Lauer to sit down with Savannah.’ They went into their talent pool and picked the absolute perfect choice.”
And viewers swept up in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are responding. “This sends an important message out there that for women, the tide is changing, and this is a really smart, positive move for NBC to make,” added Berman. “NBC took this terrible situation and repaired it. They sent out a message that they are going to change the mold.”
“CBS This Morning,” which had fired Charlie Rose in November over similar accusations of sexual misconduct, has remained in third place. While it hasn’t seen the same ratings spike post-scandal that “Today” has, its numbers have held steady with Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell at the helm.
“Not for lack of trying, the CBS morning show remains the outlier. For whatever reason — habit or just viewer taste — ‘Today’ and ‘GMA’ are the go-to broadcast network shows in the morning,” said Hinckley. “I suspect that viewers who want the somewhat harder-news approach of the CBS show are drained off, to some extent, by Fox and MSNBC’s morning shows.”
“Since ‘Today’ has always had a larger audience than competing ‘CBS This Morning,’ it is also not surprising to see NBC gain more viewers,” added Berman.
But even after the curiosity factor surrounding “Today’s” morning musical chairs fades, the experts agree that the show will likely continue enjoying a ratings boost.
“The numbers will eventually come down, but only to a point,” said Berman. “They will remain up from what they were before. This is a formula that is working.”
This story was originally published on Dec. 6, 2017, and has been updated with the latest ratings report.
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