ABC’s Good Morning America won the February sweep in overall audience despite an Olympics boost for Today, while the NBC morning infotainment show took the ratings derby in the news demo off of which ad sales are made in the daypart. With a Sochi-laden lineup, Today pulled in its best February sweep demos in two years and in overall audience in four, which would put it at the last Winter Games. Today noted it cut its year-to-year gaps with GMA during the sweep by 146% in the demo, and 95% in total viewers. But GMA managed to pull off its seventh consecutive sweep win in overall audience – and its second-most-watched sweep in more than two decades — in the teeth of Today‘s Olympics-centric February. And, compared to the 2010 February sweep, which coincides with Today‘s boost from the Vancouver Winter Games, GMA climbed 24% in overall audience and 16% in the news demo.
Today climbed back on top of the ratings among morning infotainment programs, last week, though it did not find itself at the same dizzying ratings heights, relative to the competition, it has enjoyed in past Winter Games. Today, after some recent ratings doldrums, delivered its biggest audience advantages over ABC’s Good Morning America since the second week of the London Games in August 2012, according to fast national program ratings from Nielsen for last week.
The second week of the London Games, you’ll recall, is the last time Today show beat GMA in total viewers. GMA has won every week since in overall audience.
Today averaged 6.221 million viewers last week — its biggest weekly crowd since the week of the Royal British wedding in April 2011. Today‘s 6.221 million viewers topped GMA’s 6.010 million for the week by 211,000 viewers. For comparison sake, that second week of the London Games, Today’s total viewers lead over GMA was 1.541 million. And Today’s lead over GMA during the first full week of broadcast from the Olympics in 2010 was 1.884 million.
In the news demo, Today averaged 2.545 million viewers its first full week of Sochi Olympics broadcasts – its biggest demo haul since the week of the Joplin, Missouri tornado in May of ’11. That 2.545 million is 185,000 viewers ahead of GMA’s 2.360 million demo viewers last week. Here too, it’s Today’s biggest edge over GMA since the second week of the London Games. Four years ago, during the comparable week at Vancouver, Today led GMA by 1.011 million demo viewers.
Al Roker Lands ‘Today’ In Thick Of Snowstorm Story From Sochi When He Apologizes For Forecasting One Term For NYC Mayor: Video
Today show weatherman Al Roker apologized this morning on air from Sochi for suggesting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would be one term and out over his “goofball” decision to keep schools open in the thick of the latest winter storm.
One of the popular theories as to why NBC’s Today show is not grabbing the usual winning crowds it enjoys whenever it goes to an Olympics (its ratings have popped, but ABC’s Good Morning America was able to snag a bigger crowd this past Tuesday, for instance, though Today jumped back on top Wednesday) is that Today is getting pummeled by the weather. Not the surprisingly warm temperatures in Sochi, which is affecting conditions for several Olympics competitions, but the mondo snowstorm that was forecast for, and then hit, the U.S. East Coast. Particularly East Coast morning viewers looking for information about the storm barreling down on them might have been too distracted to watch Team Today each morning, interviewing U.S. medal winners, discussing Russian culture, and wearing eucalyptus-branch hats while soaking at a Russian bath house. That, even though Today at least one morning led its broadcast with a big storm report, and has included segments on the storm throughout its Sochi broadcasts.
Today weatherman Roker may have solved that problem when he gave himself a speaking part in the storm spectacle, launching a Twitter tirade against New York mayor Bill de Blasio over the latter’s decision to keep NY schools open Thursday despite severe weather warnings. This morning, Roker got a big fat plug across the media landscape when he apologized on Today for one of those tweets, in which he gave his “long-range forecast” that de Blasio would be a one-term mayor.
NBC’s ‘Today’ Bags Biggest Crowd Since London Games, But ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ Nabs More Viewers
ABC‘s Good Morning America attracted the largest audience among morning infotainment programs the week that included the first couple days of NBC‘s Olympics coverage. NBC began covering Games competition on Thursday of last week and broadcast the Opening Ceremony in primetime on Friday. NBC noted Today won those mornings last week — by an average of 190,000 viewers and 326,000 news-demo viewers.
ABC also noted that on Tuesday of this week, GMA topped Today, for the first time ever during official Olympics Games.
— Sam Champion (@SamChampion) January 31, 2014
TWC put out a news release, however, explaining AMHQ is short for America’s Morning Headquarters – but that the official title is AMHQ.
A major storm rained down on Winter TV Press Tour 2014 this morning when The Weather Channel took the stage to blast DirectTV over their current carriage dispute. In anticipation of the channel’s appearance before a couple hundred journalists at the tour, it issued an ominous campaign late last night warning viewers they needed to contact their congressional reps to intervene, or else DirecTV would take away “its critical weather programming,” calling it a “public safety issue.”
TV critics at the press tour weren’t entirely drinking The Weather Channel’s Kool-aid. One critic noted TWC is a successful company owned by a big corporation, asking “Is it fair to declare it a public utility?” in what’s really a business dispute.
“Absolutely. And I’m not kidding,” Weather Channel president David Clark responded ominously. “If you’ve ever been in a severe weather situation and you need to make a decision to protect your family and you need to make it fast” you need “to know your information comes from a trusted source… We have a mission to serve that we take seriously. Don’t think you can stand a fly-by-night alternative to that,” he said, warning “you’re going to be putting your audience at risk.”
And by “fly-by-night” he meant a little channel called WeatherNation that the satellite giant’s subscribers might have noticed appearing right next to Weather Channel on DirecTV’s lineup in recent weeks, as the satcaster’s carriage deal with The Weather Channel is set to expire next week.
At Clark’s side on stage, The Weather Channel’s pricey new hire Sam Champion warned “there isn’t one,” in re alternatives to The Weather Channel in a weather emergency. “I’d love to say we can rest assured we’re safe in our homes because of BLANK. There isn’t one… Getting people ready, getting them through a storm that is the worst time in their life, is something I don’t take lightly, and this channel does it better than anyone else — anywhere . The Coast Guard, the Navy — everybody — police officers, fire officers watch this channel during emergencies to get information. That’s a responsibility that no one takes lightly. What we’re trying to say is we want people to have access to it.”
NBC began its Today show Olympics walk-up this morning with a strategically timed piece in The New York Times about a Comcast-wide ad blitz for a new show tagline “Rise to Shine”. It’s part of a big push to get Today back on top in the morning infotainment show ratings. In the article, NBC noted that Today, which lost its ratings crown to ABC’s Good Morning America some time ago, has been chipping away at GMA’s lead, even beating its rival by 18,000 in the news demo the week of December 16 (aka The Week GMA Sent Robin Roberts to the Vatican). The head of NBC News research spoke passionately about Matt Lauer‘s importance to the show’s ratings resuscitation, and Matt himself discussed taking selfies when you think you’re looking good, not when you’re looking bad.
GMA responded this morning with a news release announcing that it won all four quarters of 2013, including its largest fourth-quarter total-viewer lead over Today in more than 22 years, and its biggest demo lead over Today in 19 years (371,000 viewers) during the final full week of the calendar year.
Oh, and Robin Roberts come out on GMA this morning — taking some of the wind out of Today’s carefully orchestrated “Rise to Shine”.
Good Morning America interviewed ABC News’ Amy Robach this morning — three weeks after her double mastectomy and coinciding with her People magazine cover — to tell viewers she will undergo four months of chemo after her mastectomy revealed the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, as well as a second malignant tumor. “I’m going to work through it,” she said of the chemo, which she will begin later this month. “I saw Robin [Roberts] do it. I know how strong you were and you give me strength, Robin, because it is important to get up and have something to do each day,” she told the GMA on-air gang. Here’s a clip of Robach’s interview:
Robach’s cancer diagnosis after an on-air mammogram made news. American TV viewers have become accustomed to watching news talent having various on-air health checkups since Katie Couric’s on-air colonoscopy more than a decade ago; last month on NBC’s Today, Matt Lauer and Al Roker got on-air-but-behind-doors prostate exams.
ABC’s ratings leader Good Morning America muddled through its first morning after news broke of the first successful raid on its popular on-air team. Weatherman Sam Champion is leaving tomorrow, to become managing editor, a producer, and anchor of a new flagship morning show at The Weather Channel. Not coincidentally, Weather Channel is co-owned by NBC, whose Today show is now regularly getting whomped by GMA, after monopolizing the daypart for years. “Cold weather set to hit even LA and Phoenix — one of many reasons to welcome Sam here right at the start,” George Stephanopoulos said awkwardly at the top of this morning’s GMA broadcast.
“You made headlines yesterday — you were off, but you were not resting,” added Robin Roberts, addressing Champion. “We are so excited for you — a big new adventure for you with your new job at The Weather Channel,” she said. Champion’s GMA colleagues seemed somewhat constrained and sticking-to-script-ish at the top of the broadcast – the news coming as it does while Roberts, as well as Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer also are in contract negotiations with ABC.
“It is hard to step out and make a change — I’m so proud and you’re setting an example for so many of us,” Roberts said (ominously we think, if you’re an ABC News exec), later in the program, as the GMA gang sat around and gabbed about Champion’s new gig. “We want to sometimes try something different — it would have been easy to stay; we know you love us and we love you. But to do this, that lets us know this is what you’re meant to do.”
ABC News’ Amy Robach, whose cancer diagnosis after an on-air mammogram made news, says her double mastectomy has revealed a second, previously undetected malignant tumor. “My prognosis is good, I got very lucky finding the cancer through our ABC sponsored mammogram and I got lucky choosing an aggressive approach, bilateral mastectomy, because while in surgery last week my surgeon found a second, undetected malignant tumor,” Robach said today in a memo to Good Morning America staff.
American TV viewers have become accustomed to watching morning infotainment talent having various on-air health checkups since Katie Couric had her celebrated on-air colonoscopy more than a decade ago. Most recently, Matt Lauer and Al Roker got their prostates checked on Today, and last month, ABC News’ Amy Robach got her very first mammogram on ABC’s Good Morning America as talent across the morning infotainment-show landscape plugged Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What viewers are not used to is that TV personality announcing, not long thereafter, that they have breast cancer and will have a double mastectomy. That “first” fell to Robach, a few weeks after her October 1 on-air mammogram resulted in a cancer diagnosis. On GMA this morning, and in a post on ABC.com, Robach said the mammogram was something she had agreed to do only at the request of a GMA producer, and that she had breathed a sigh of relief once it was over. The cancer concerns were not raised during that broadcast. But a few weeks later, she said, when she thought she was going back in for a few follow-up images, she learned she had breast cancer.
UPDATE: NBC To Trot Out Second Pilot For ‘Dateline’ Skydiver Collision Special After ‘GMA’ Beats ‘Today’ Skydivers Edition
UPDATE, 2:35 PM: NBC will air its Dateline special, using the helmet-cam video of the skydivers who survived that mid-air collision 12,000 feet above Wisconsin last weekend, this Friday at 8 PM on a Dateline special called Miracle On The Sunset Dive. Sure enough, NBC News was saving that second plot — the one whose plane caught fire and broke into pieces, and who was not seen on Tuesday’s Today show — for the Dateline special. “For the first time, hear from the pilot whose plane lost both of its wings and plummeted to the ground,” NBC News emoted in this afternoon’s scheduling announcement.
PREVIOUS, 10:17 AM: Word that NBC News had paid “in excess” of $100,000 for exclusive rights to helmet-cam video of skydivers who’d miraculously survived a recent mid-air collision in Wisconsin had some media critics harrumphing mightily, accusing NBC News of “checkbook journalism” albeit on a Hollywood-cappuccino-money level — but that’s not the point. In fairness, the news did not offend some media-watchers’ moral sense — no doubt because they don’t have one, you’re thinking.