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.
“Symphony” is NBC parent Comcast-speak for “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It involves various properties of the company promoting each other. In the case of the star of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham‘s, the music started when the network booked the creator-writer-star to guest host Saturday Night Live for the first time, this weekend. This week, Dunham showed up on NBC’s Late Night, now hosted by former SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers, to help keep up his second-week ratings, during which she plugged this weekend’s SNL . Today, NBC News sent out info about a Dunham interview, taped for tomorrow morning, on Today – from the set of Saturday Night Live — during which she talks to Savannah Guthrie about the fact that she is hosting SNL for the first time, and her love of SNL. In the course of that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, she also plugged Late Night, while answering a question as to whether she came to SNL with any sketch ideas of her own. In that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, Dunham said she asked new-host Meyers for advice about pitching the SNL writers, because she “didn’t want to be the person who shows up for the first day of school with, like, all their pencils sharpened, already knowing all the answers.”
Al Roker Makes Up With NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio As ‘Today’ Looks To Keep Ratings Up Post-Sochi: Video
Today show weatherman Al Roker kissed and made up with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the program this morning when the mayor came to cut the ribbon on the show’s revamped Rockefeller Center outside space. It’s part of Today’s campaign to hang on to the ratings bump it enjoyed in Sochi, which put the show back on top of the morning show pile.
“We’ve got Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Roker announced, though he needn’t have bothered – the mayor was hard to miss, towering over the Today show team, and Roker barely came up to his shoulders. ‘We’ll get this out of the way,” Roker opened. “We had a little chat about school closings and snow; we both want the best for school kids and our city.”
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.
UPDATE, 8:30 AM: NBC has issued a news release about Bob Costas’ decision to end his streak of 157 nights of Olympics coverage. The network reiterated what Costas announced this morning on Today: that Matt Lauer will host NBC’s Olympic primetime and late-night shows tonight in place of Costas, who has an eye infection. In the news release, Costas says he bowed out tonight because, “as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.” He added: “I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast. Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”
Tonight marks the first time since CBS presented the Nagano Olympic Winter Games in 1998 that someone other than Costas will host an Olympics primetime show. It’s also the first time since 1988 that someone other than Costas will host the Olympic primetime show on NBC — a remarkable 157 straight nights. “I’m happy to keep his chair warm. Although I might Purell it before I sit in it!” Lauer said in the announcement, which noted Costas is listed as ‘day to day’ on the NBC injury report.
Costas’ full statement:
Russian Police Choir Performs ‘Get Lucky’ On ‘Today’ As NBC Makes Amends For Opening Ceremony Snub (Video)
NBC’s shocking lack of cop-choir performance was among the offenses listed by The Reporters Who Cover Olympics in their How NBC Screwed Up the Opening Ceremony This Time think pieces last Friday. (The other biggie was NBC’s decision to edit IOC chief Thomas’s Bach’s opening ceremony speech so that viewers did hear him make one comment in favor of embracing human diversity, but did not hear him expand on the theme. “The IOC’s President was edited for time, as were other speeches, but his message got across very clearly to viewers,” an NBC spokesperson told Deadline after the ceremony broadcast.)
No mention was made of the fact NBC had not aired their act last Friday, but the Today talent several times re-iterated NBC’s defense on a technicality: the choir had performed at Sochi on Friday before the opening ceremony “officially” began.
Is this the big assignment NBC News was referencing when it denied a report it would not renew Ann Curry‘s pricey contract? The news division said today Curry will report from Bangui in the Central African Republic for tonight’s NBC Nightly News, on NBCNews.com, on Curry’s YouTube channel, and on tomorrow’s Today. The announcement comes a couple days after a report surfaced that NBC News would not renew Curry’s $12 million contract; Curry segued into that contract after she exited as co-anchor of the network’s morning infotainment series, which has been trying to recover from the image problem it created ever since. At the start of this week, NBC News unveiled some of its plans to get Today back on its feet, including a new “Rise to Shine” tagline to help viewers forget its bungled dumping of Curry.
2014 is getting off to a busy start for NBC News. No sooner does the division announce its priority is getting Today back up on its feet with a new tagline “Rise to Shine” that will help viewers forget its bungled dumping of show co-anchor Ann Curry, than a report surfaces that NBC News will not renew Curry’s $12 million contract — the one she got when she was shoved off Today. The network has denied the Radar report, noting that Curry has been given an actual big assignment which, presumably, is what happens when you pay someone $12 mil a year.
Meanwhile, the division’s Sunday Beltway show Meet The Press got its fourth quarter numbers, and they’re the franchise’s worst in its history in the news demo. MTP also suffered its smallest fourth-quarter total-viewer crowd since ’91. This news forced the news division to have to insist to Politico that it has no plans to replace anchor David Gregory, because the site’s media columnist had suggested just that.
And MSNBC has had to refute a report in National Review that Rachel Maddow dictates the cable news network’s editorial direction and has a lot to say about personnel decisions. This after MSNBC anchors Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin got the hook over separate incendiary comments, and a teary apology by Melissa Harris-Perry for an episode of her program in which she and a bunch of comics poked fun at little black grandson Kieran sitting on Mitt Romney’s knee in the family’s Christmas photo.
“We should mention, we’re going to do this in a tasteful way — this is not The Learning Channel,” Savannah Guthrie said at the top of the hour on the Today show this morning, when Matt Lauer and Al Roker got prostate exams live, on the air, on ratings-hungry Today. Turns out, a tasteful, live, on-air prostate exam involves watching Lauer open a door, enter another room, close the door, after which the Ladies of Today vamp for 34 seconds until Matt emerges from behind the door and his doctor pronounces his prostate small, smooth, and nodule-free. It’s not as dull as, say, CNN’s Crossfire, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Katie Couric’s Celebrity Colonoscopy, about 13 years ago, on Today.
That live on-air colonoscopy changed how many Americans viewed the procedure. But back then, we watched Katie prep the night before, we listened to her talk about the death of her husband from colon cancer; Katie was sedated and therefore charmingly semi-loopy in her hospital gown at the hospital for the procedure. We watched in horror/fascination, as the little camera snaked its way up Katie’s intestine with Katie and her doctor proving commentary. It was gripping stuff. Matt and Al walking behind a door lacks drama. (continued)
More than 13 years ago, morning infotainment ratings leader Today aired Katie Couric’s Celebrity Colonoscopy and changed how many Americans viewed that screening. Tomorrow, Matt Lauer and Al Roker will get prostate exams live, on the air, on the now-ratings-hungry morning show. When Today made a star of Couric’s colon in March 2000, nearly 6.7 million viewers tuned in to watch that day. To put that in perspective, it’s about how many viewers tuned in to Today for updates the morning after President Obama successfully pulled off the taking down of Osama bin Laden. Hoping to re-create the ratings magic, Lauer and Roker will get their prostates checked out, live, by a doctor and discuss the importance of prostate screening for men over 40.
When she left the show in June 2006, Couric said on her final broadcast that undergoing the first televised colonoscopy was her proudest accomplishment.
Two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir announced on NBC‘s Today this morning that he is retiring from competition and joining the network’s coverage team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He’ll be joined by 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, and 2006 ice dance silver medalist Tanith Belbin, the network announced. Weir, the two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. champion, and Lipinski, the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games when she won in Nagano in 1998 at age 15, will serve as analysts for NBC Olympics’ multi-platform figure skating coverage. Belbin, a silver medalist in ice dancing at the Torino Olympics, will serve as a reporter for NBC Olympics’ Sports Desk and will present features for The Olympic Zone, NBC Olympics’ 30-minute daily show for NBC affiliates covering all aspects of the Games. Weir and Lipinski debut on NBC this Sunday at 4 PM ET alongside Terry Gannon on the network’s telecast of the 2013 Skate Canada International, featuring performances from the men’s and ladies’ free skate competitions.