ABC News’ Good Morning America has signed Lara Spencer to a new contract, leaving Josh Elliott the lone holdout among GMA cast members whose contracts are coming up now, as the morning infotainment show gets buffeted by competitor NBC. That NBC campaign reportedly includes talk with Elliott — who came to GMA from ABC parent Disney’s ESPN — about working for NBC in both news and sports, a sort of next-generation Bob Costas. Similarly, NBC poached GMA weatherman Sam Champion late last year; Champion, who had been with GMA since 2006, left to join NBCUniversal’s The Weather Channel as host of its new morning flagship show, and to become the channel’s managing editor.
Elliott, whose paycheck currently is in the $1.2 million range, is said to be seeking north of $8 million a year — a more than 500% pay hike. According to one industry insider, with Robin Roberts re-signed and now Spencer (George Stephanopoulos’s contract runs through the end of 2014, so he’s not part of this flurry), ABC News may have put a time ultimatum on the table with Elliott, though others say no. Regardless, there’s not much time left what with Elliott having less than four weeks left on his current deal.
So far, the blow-by-blow media coverage of the near-simultaneous contract talks with four of GMA’s five pieces of on-air talent, and reports of jealousy over Robert’s $14 million-ish deal has not dinged GMA’s one-big-happy-family image to a degree that impacts viewing, in the way similar media reports of internecine disharmony did to Today, reaching a fevered pitch around the time of the cringe-inducing denouement of Operation Bambi – aka the ouster of a weepy Ann Curry – in June 2012:
Even after Champion’s departure, for instance, GMA last week delivered its biggest overall audience since Nielsen electronic records began and its best news-demo delivery in eight years. Still it’s considered no coincidence that GMA added Elliott and Spencer to the lineup about a year before GMA eclipsed Today in the ratings. This puts Elliott in a good position, though he and ABC News are said to still be far apart on price, with the network offering about half his asking price — quite a spread. (For comparison sake, GMA’s George Stephanopoulos reportedly is paid about $6 million a year; his contract runs through this calendar year.) Read More »
Former Good Morning America Sunday co-anchor Willow Bay today was appointed the director of USC’s School of Journalism. “The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Ernest Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism of the former ABC, CNN and NBC correspondent and Lifetime producer. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating and defining the digital future.’ Currently an editor at the Huffington Post and a special correspondent for Bloomberg News, Bay will take over her duties at USC in July. “I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields,” said Bay today. Bay is married to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Around 11:30 PM ET last night word that new satellite images had pinpointed two large objects in the ocean a couple thousand miles off the coast of Australia electrified TV news teams covering missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Fox New Channel‘s Shepard Smith jumped back on the air at midnight to report on the new development, but anchored from the newsroom studio because it takes a big team to fire up The Deck. CNN broke into its AC360 repeat at 11:26 PM with CNNI anchor John Vause, with Don Lemon and Richard Quest jumping in at 11:55 PM and Anderson Cooper added at 12:07 AM. MSNBC‘s Betty Nguyen anchored for that network, handing off to Chris Jansing around 2 AM.
ABC‘s lucky David Wright was flying on a U.S. Navy surveillance plane in the Indian Ocean when it was directed to the sightings, and told Nightline “We’ll be the first on the site.” But when ABC’s Good Morning America clocked in this morning, Wright, now back in Perth, reported the surveillance plane had turned up only a freighter and some dolphins. Watch Wright’s GMA report here:
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Watch Shep’s midnight report here: Read More »
This morning, Good Morning America unveiled the #socialsquare, which it says is a “groundbreaking new digital studio” engaging viewers on a daily basis with the broadcast and social conversation. An expansion of the morning infotainment series’ current Times Square studio, #socialsquare is the new social “nerve center” for the broadcast, featuring installations developed with the leading social media platforms allowing GMA guests to interact with viewers throughout the broadcast, ABC News says. ”This will revolutionize how our show is produced in the morning and its all about engaging directly with our viewers from beginning to end,” GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski said this morning.
More than one person this morning has noted NBC’s Today, which is in a ratings death match with GMA, debuted its like-minded digital space, Orange Room, last September. But, of course, Orange Room is orange, whereas Social Square is pink, and blue — and it has foosball. ”If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are deeply and sincerely flattered — and not surprised given our ratings gains, specifically in younger viewers,” Today responded. Here’s GMA‘s reveal this morning:
Related: ‘Today’ Takes February Sweep In Demo While ‘GMA’ Wins Overall Audience
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ABC’s Good Morning America attracted more overall viewers on Monday, despite the best efforts of NBC’s Today show to hang on to its Sochi ratings bump – but Today hung on to the important demo win. GMA outstripped Today by 89,000 viewers overall. The first day after the most recent previous Games — the 2012 London Summer Olympics — GMA had finished behind Today by 301,000 viewers. Today beat GMA on Monday by 92,000 news demo viewers; the Monday after the London Games, Today beat GMA by 102,000 demo viewers.
It’s the first time GMA has beaten Today among total viewers the Monday following the end of the Olympics (when NBC aired the games) since at least 1991. Monday’s Today featured Olympic athletes, a kiss-and-make-up between Al Roker and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who came to cut the ribbon on Today‘s re-done outdoor space, and the removal of Today talent makeup as part of a “Love Your Selfie” series on body image.
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. Read More »
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.
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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. Read More »
If you guessed Sam Champion‘s new The Weather Channel show was going to be called AMHQ — you win! Champion himself did the unveiling, this morning, via Twitter.
TWC put out a news release, however, explaining AMHQ is short for America’s Morning Headquarters – but that the official title is AMHQ. Read More »
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.
Related: DirecTV Hits Back In Weather Channel Spat, Citing Customer Complaints
“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.”
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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”. Read More »
Today finished first among 25- to 54-year-olds for the week – its first demo win in nearly six months. The NBC morning infotainment show edged out ABC’s Good Morning America by 18,000 viewers in the age bracket, while also snagging its closest total-viewer position relative to front-runner GMA in nearly a year.
Related: Bryant Gumbel And Jane Pauley To Reunite On ‘Today’
Today actually outstripped GMA in the news demo on every morning of the week except Friday, when GMA posted a commanding 212,000 lead – its second-largest Friday margin of the season over the NBC program. On Monday, Today led by a mere 1,000 demo viewers, Tuesday by 26,000 and Thursday by 67,000. But Wednesday, when GMA sent Robin Roberts and Josh Elliott to the Vatican to cover the huge crowd gathered to hear Pope Francis’ last public-speaking engagement of 2013 (the pope having just been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year), GMA fell 211,000 viewers behind Today. That wiped out GMA’s boost on Friday, when Roberts hosted GMA’s review of the year, in partnership with People magazine.
On the bright side for GMA, all three of the broadcast network morning infotainment programs were up in ratings compared to same week last year, though Today showed the most growth, percentage-wise: 12% in overall audience and 16% in the demo.
Lifetime is developing a TV movie adaptation of Brian Stelter‘s Top Of The Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, about the rise of Good Morning America over Today in the morning infotainment ratings war. The movie will be executive produced by Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto (and produced by their Diga Vision), who acquired the rights. They’re still working on securing writers and closing various deals, an informed source says. The source adds that Stelter, who covered media for the New York Times when he wrote the blah-ly reviewed book, has had virtually no involvement with the project — though word of the deal first broke on TVNewser, which Stelter founded, along with TV Guide. Stelter, meanwhile, has moved on from NYT and is now senior media reporter and Reliable Sources host at CNN.
And now, to the important stuff — casting! Who should play Matt Lauer? Ann Curry? George Stephanopoulos? Robin Roberts? Sam Champion?