'Today' show gets makeover with new set, Carson Daly
By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine
(Reuters) - NBC's "Today" is revamping its show as it tries to retake the ratings lead it held for decades, adding "The Voice" host Carson Daly and a new set to lure back viewers who defected last year to ABC's "Good Morning America."
"Today," which generates the bulk of the profits for NBC's news division, is looking to recapture viewers it lost after anchor Ann Curry left in June 2012. Earlier that spring, "Good Morning America" snapped the show's 16-year winning streak atop the morning ratings.
"We want to be very competitive in the morning wars," Matt Lauer, the show's co-host, said on the new orange-hued set in Rockefeller Center on Thursday from which he and fellow hosts Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker will be seen starting Monday.
"Good Morning America" on Walt Disney Co's ABC leads the ratings race in total viewers and among 25- to 54-year-olds, the group advertisers target during the morning shows. "GMA" averaged nearly 2 million viewers in that age group, about 86,000 more than "Today," according to Nielsen data from September 24, 2012, through September 1, 2013.
Third-place "CBS This Morning," which has steadily grown its audience since it rebranded with a bent toward hard news in January 2012, averaged 1 million in 25- to 54-year-olds.
Advertisers spent an estimated $515 million last year for the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. time slot, according to Kantar Media, and it is among the more profitable parts of a network's schedule, according to Jon Swallen, Kantar's chief research officer.
"Today's" share of that market has dropped to 50.1 percent from 59.1 percent in 2010, according to Kantar's numbers.
"You used to be able to just buy 'Today' and maybe a little CBS," said Aaron Cohen, chief media negotiator for Horizon Media. The marketing and advertising firm buys morning show ads for clients that include Geico, Capital One and Weight Watchers. Continued...