The same day ABC’s Good Morning America officially said so long to news anchor Josh Elliott, it announced it had delivered its most watched quarter in more than 22 years in first quarter 2014. The show also celebrated its …
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.
UPDATE, 6:30 PM: “At an Olympics, there is no way to know what will happen at the moment everything matters most — no guarantee you’ll turn all that preparation into perfection,” Meredith Vieira said tonight at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi as she kicked off NBC’s primetime broadcast of Olympics competition held earlier in the day. The comment was particularly appropriate under the circumstances: Vieira, who’d been brought to Sochi to co-host the Opening Ceremony with Matt Lauer and had been doing segments for Today on U.S. athletes to watch at the Games since, was tapped to replace Bob Costas as the network’s primetime Games anchor, taking over for Lauer, who’d pulled double duty for three days. Costas still is battling an infection in both eyes that makes studio lighting his enemy.
Vieira is on duty for at least one night – possibly two, according to NBC’s Games EP Jim Bell, who called her the best choice for the gig among a considerable stable of talent at Sochi because her schedule was most flexible. For a TV veteran whose new syndicated daytime talk show is set to launch in the fall, the Sochi exposure is a gift. Before Costas, former Today anchor Bryant Gumbel served as primetime host of NBC’s Olympic coverage and was preceded by Curt Gowdy and Bill Henry, making Vieira the first woman to do the job. Hannah Storm, Mary Carillo, Gayle Gardner and Jane Pauley have previously hosted NBC’s daytime and late-night Olympic coverage.
“It’s so funny, I woke up this morning and I was feeling fine, and now my eyes are killing me,” Vieira joshed on Today this morning when her new assignment was announced. “I watched you guys [Lauer and Al Roker] attempt the luge. I think I’m going blind.”
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.
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”.
Stephen Colbert, John Lithgow, and Katie Couric demonstrated how Today could have improved on the ratings performance of its on-air prostate exam with Steven Colbert’s November Sweeps Prostacular. “It’s no accident Today played this groundbreaking stunt during the November sweep, because Today show knows what brings in the great ratings is men in their 50′s being finger puppeted,” Colbert explained on last night’s The Colbert Report, adding, “I will not be sweeps-swept by the Today show.” Watch here:
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.
CBS, the network most closely associated with President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, being the network on which Walter Cronkite gave the first television network news report officially announcing Kennedy’s death, today unveiled plans for coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas. Cronkite died in 2009, but the CBS News guy assigned to the region who reported on the assassination in Dallas, Dan Rather is still around. But Rather, who unwillingly stepped down from CBS News years ago, won’t be part of the news division’s coverage next month — in fact, Rather’s name is not even mentioned in CBS News’ announcement. Dan Rather will be seen on NBC News, in an appearance with Tom Brokaw on Today, on the actual anniversary of JFK’s death, November 22.
CBS News touted its next best thing: Bob Schieffer, who was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the assassination and conducted the first interview with Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother as he rode with her from Fort Worth to Dallas to see her son in custody and who, CBS News noted, is “the only current network news anchor who was in Dallas on the day of the shooting.” That’s the closest CBS News got to mentioning Rather in today’s announcement.
Related: R.I.P. CBS Newsman Lew Wood
Detailing plans for its primetime special, As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years, to include video from the CBS News archives from the day of the assassination, CBS News mentioned Cronkite’s moving report, and described the other footage thusly: “Viewers are in the moment with legendary anchor Walter Cronkite and journalism’s iconic reporters: Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt and Mike Wallace.” CBS News also noted that throughout the week, its web site will stream the original CBS News broadcast coverage of the assassination in real time, and the four-day period following the shooting, adding, “Viewers will relive the extraordinary 1963 CBS News reports from New York, Dallas, Washington and around the world as Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt, Roger Mudd and others reported the tragedy.”
Paula Deen visits another of the stations of the cross on her road to TV redemption tonight — she’s the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story. E!THS says it will detail the “rags to riches …
NBC no doubt hopes Miley Cyrus‘ Today show appearance this morning cops better ratings than did her Saturday Night Live hosting/performing gig over the weekend. Undaunted by NCAA football’s best effort to nuke her SNL numbers with a nearly half-hour delay, trouper Cyrus packed up her Strategic Hot Mess Tour and sashayed on over to Today to make some news, telling Matt Lauer he’s too old to be sexy, or to understand her VMA performance.
Matt needs the ratings — all good.
Miley was the only one who mentioned the half-hour football delay — deadline in late-night — that no doubt kept her Twerking Michele Bachmann performance from becoming all the talk on the Sunday Beltway shows the next morning. That football overrun kept Miley from setting any SNL ratings records on the heels of her gone-viral VMA twerkformance. That said, SNL’s delayed-viewing stats will no doubt be even higher than usual. Matt instead, after praising her “really great showing on Saturday Night Live,” wondered if the seasoned pro — who has been slapped in front of TV cameras since around the turn of the century, starred in her own comedy series from ’06-’11, upstaged Justin Timberlake at the VMAs, and had hosted SNL before — was nervous on the late-night stalwart over the weekend. Miley politely explained that she was not. Then Matt said he would never be able to look at another foam finger or wrecking ball the same way again and wondered if it has been harder than she’d expected to navigate the transition from kid star to adult star, and if she was surprised by the attention she’s been getting of late. (Watch Miley talk to Matt after the jump.)
Carson Daly, longtime host of NBC‘s late-night show Last Call, and host of the network’s primetime singing competition The Voice, has joined NBC News’ Today as its “digital doorman,” he said this morning. Daly will be holed up in this Orange Room on the struggling morning infotainment show’s new set, which will be unveiled Monday. “Orange Room,” NBC said this morning, “is the nexus point between the Today audience and the show, embracing the many ways that viewers seek out and share news across all media and allowing the show and its fans to connect in a variety of new ways. In a casual, lounge-like setting, the Orange Room will also be a hub of emerging technology, equipped for everything from social media hangouts, to extended live-stream interviews with Today guests, analysis of real-time social data and reactions from the web, as well as the home for Today’s original digital franchises.” Pop quiz tomorrow.
It’s probably no coincidence NBC tossed out its latest Today show bright shiny light the same day ABC was set to issue its weekly morning infotainment-show ratings report. In the report, ABC notes that, season-to-date, GMA is seeing its largest overall season audience in more than 21 years and its best 25-54 performance in five years, and that it has had the largest overall audience among morning infotainment shows the past 55 consecutive weeks — and that GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo! reached 22 million users last month, and is the No. 1 morning-news website, beating Today.com by millions of viewers each month.
UPDATE: Today’s announcement throws into question — again – the fate of Last Call. Daly’s out as host, but will remain an exec producer on the show, the network said this morning, adding that a “transition” plan would be announced “at a later date” — which industry insiders assume means “lickety split” since the show should already have gone into production for its new season. It’s not the first time Last Call has been on the block. What started as a straight talk show, morphed into a half-hour mix of interviews and pre-taped location music performances over the years as ratings declined and budgets were cut. When it debuted way back in 2002, Last Call clocked about 1.4 million viewers – 417,000 of them in the target 18-34 demo (and 850,000 of them in the 18-49 demo). It peaked in ’04 with an average audience of 1.6 million (525,000 in 18-34), but has been sliding slowly since. This season it’s averaging 875,000 viewers (149,000 in 18-34). That said, for the first 10 weeks of the third quarter, Last Call has moved ahead of CBS’s Late Late Show by a teensy margin in 18-34 (145,000 vs. 144,000).