NBC’s ‘Today’ regains ratings lead in key demographic

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NBC’s “Today” has finished the 2015-16 TV season as the No. 1 network morning show among the 25-to-54 age group that matters most to advertisers.

The win in the demographic is the first since the 2010-11 season, when “Today” was having its historic 16-year run as the top-rated morning program. The program lost its leadership position the following season when the less-than-amicable departure of longtime “Today” co-anchor Ann Curry led to viewer defections.

But the current “Today” team, led by co-anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, has remained stable in recent years. The program received a boost this year from being a part of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics in Rio.


“Today” averaged 1.78 million viewers in the 25-to-54 audience for the season, compared with 1.45 million for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which saw a 19% decline in the demographic.

It’s too soon to determine whether Lauer’s heavily criticized performance at NBC’s Sept. 7 “Commander-In-Chief Forum” will have a long-term effect on “Today” ratings. But the program held its lead over “GMA” in the first week after the event.

Meanwhile, “GMA” recently added Michael Strahan as a full-time co-anchor, joining George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, in an effort to boost its sagging numbers.

“Good Morning America” maintained its lead over “Today” in overall viewers for the fourth straight season.

“GMA” averaged 4.74 million viewers, down 9% from the previous season, while “Today” pulled 4.55 million, a 2% decline.

Some viewers are also switching to “CBS This Morning,” which has positioned itself as a more news-driven alternative to “Today” and “GMA.”


The CBS program, co-anchored by Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, averaged 3.58 million viewers, a gain of 7% over the previous season. In the 25-to-54 age group, the increase was 13%.

NBC also took over the 25-to-54 lead among Sunday public affairs programs. “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” led with 1 million viewers in the demographic. Like “Today,” it’s also the program’s first winning season in four years.

CBS’ “Face the Nation” was the most-watched Sunday public affairs show overall with 3.62 million viewers, an increase of 11% over the previous season. It was the first year for moderator John Dickerson, who replaced Bob Schieffer in June 2015. That figure topped “Meet the Press” (3.25 million, up 25%), ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” (2.92 million, up 13%) and “Fox News Sunday,” anchored by Chris Wallace (1.52 million, up 18%).

The ratings surges for the public affairs shows can be attributed to intense viewer interest in the 2016 presidential campaign; they are frequent stops for the candidates.

NBC also claimed an across-the-board ratings win for “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” for the 20th consecutive year. “Nightly” finished the season with an average of 8.6 million viewers overall, a 1% decline from last season, and led in the 25-to-54 age group with 2.1 million.

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Twitter: @SteveBattaglio