ABC's "Good Morning America" is counting on NFL-star-turned-broadcaster Michael Strahan to tackle the ratings challenges facing the morning program.
ABC News announced Tuesday that Strahan is leaving Disney/ABC Domestic Television's syndicated talk show "Live With Kelly and Michael" to join "GMA" full time this fall, joining co-anchors George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer.
"GMA" needs help. Although it's still the most watched network morning show, over the last year its ratings have fallen behind NBC's "Today" among the 25-to-54 age group that advertisers covet most when they buy time on TV news. In this year's first quarter, "GMA" ratings in the demographic fell 12% from a year earlier.
Only "CBS This Morning" has been gaining viewers among the network morning rivals. "GMA" is probably losing some viewers to that program as well as other morning entries on cable. Viewers are also turning more to their mobile devices for early morning news and information.
The amiable Strahan, 44, has been a contributor to "GMA" twice a week for the last two years. But with his contract up at "Live" this year, the network approached him to jump to the morning program. He will continue to appear as a host on "NFL Live" for Fox Sports' National Football League coverage on Sundays.
In announcing the move to ABC News staff, the division's president, James Goldston, said: "Michael has been a stellar addition to the broadcast. Over the past two years on 'GMA,' he's proven to be a tireless and versatile broadcaster with an incredible ability to connect with people, from veterans to American pop culture icons and newsmakers."
Shaking up one show to help another in the company is unusual. But Disney/ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood, who oversees the company's network and syndication arm, is highly attuned to the value of "GMA."
Under his tenure as president of ABC News, "GMA" ended the 16-year ratings dominance of NBC's "Today" in 2012. "GMA" still generates a huge amount of revenue for ABC — well over $300 million a year by some industry estimates — and accounts for much of the profitability of ABC News.