Morning Show Cold War
In the world of national morning shows, NBC’s Today has held the attention of the country every week for the past sixteen years. That’s over 850 consecutive weeks. ABC’s rival Good Morning America has been trying to close the gap for years, yet was never able to break through Today’s stronghold.
That all may have changed this week as GMA has welcomed Katie Couric, formerly from Today, took on the role of guest host for the week with George Stephanopoulos. Couric has previously been called America’s Sweetheart. She’s been predicted by some to takeover Oprah’s talk show hole. To my alma mater, she was the 2011 commencement speaker. So there is a chance, right? We’ll see Monday.
Once GMA made their announcement, Today went into panic mode to counter GMA. First, they announced a “special guest” for Tuesday’s show, who turned out to be Sarah Palin. Using Palin to counter Couric is quite ironic, as the two had an infamous interview that arguably changed the course of the 2008 election (and Tina Fey). Her role as “guest host” was done somewhat in jest, as she wasn’t a host the same way as Couric was at GMA.
So far, Couric’s guest role has narrowly won one day, while closely competing the other two. We’re still waiting on results from Thursday’s and Friday’s ratings.
The idea of using a guest host is a great PR maneuver (Live! has been doing this for years) to increase viewership. While GMA may not win the week, they may grow a following. Viewers are getting a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the morning show world. Maybe Sam Champion is more entertaining than Al Roker. Some people may find they like what GMA is offering more than Today. Call me a fan, but they would have never watched without Couric’s presence. It may not happen this week, but it might just sway the ratings in GMA’s favor soon.
It’s clear that ABC is on the offensive, and NBC is playing defense, scrambling to hold onto their ground. It’s made for some thrilling news theater – an underdog versus a perennial favorite, playing a best of five series every week. We’re anxiously following along with the drama.
If you were working for either morning show, what strategies would you recommend to bring home that number one spot?