That happens to be significant not only because “Today” has been so dominant in the morning-TV wars for so many years, but also because last week was newcomer Savannah Guthrie’s first full, official week as Matt Lauer’s new co-host on “Today.”
She was brought in, of course, to replace Ann Curry and then help shore up the ratings at “Today” which had been declining recently. That clearly did not happen in Guthrie’s first week, as the folks at “GMA” want everyone to know.
They announced (“crowed,” actually) on Monday afternoon that “GMA” averaged 4.57 million total viewers a day last week (Monday, July 9, through Friday, July 13), while “Today” averaged 4.213 million viewers over the five-day period that started last Monday with the show officially welcoming Guthrie.
The “GMA” ratings announcement also pointed out that “GMA’s” lead was the widest it has achieved over “Today” in 17 years — since May 1995. (And by the way, when a network’s publicists work that hard to dig up this kind of historical data, then you know they’re intent on really making their point strongly.)
“GMA” also claimed a virtual tie with “Today” (actually a margin of less than 2,000, which is almost a tie, statistically speaking) in one demographic group coveted by the morning shows — adults 25-54.
Our take: One week in the top spot does not a victory make. But it can’t hurt — and it will legitimately earn the victor a slew of headlines on TV Web sites such as this one and in newspaper TV sections.
The question for “Today” is: If “GMA” continues to win these weekly competitions, what then? After all, “Today” brass was certain Ann Curry was somehow to blame for their show’s decline in the ratings lately. And they must have been equally certain that Savannah Guthrie would be the antidote to that.
If they’re wrong on both counts, what now?