ABC's "Good Morning America" has beaten NBC's "Today" in total viewers for the first week in more than 16 years, according to preliminary ratings.
"GMA" outdelivered Today by 13,000 total viewers, earning an average of 5.147 million compared to 5.134 million total for "Today," according to preliminary Nielsen data. But "Today" still won by 254,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic most important to news show advertisers. It had 2.04 million viewers in the demo compared to 2.229 million for "Today."
Still, "Today" executive producer Jim Bell congratulated ABC in the victory in total viewers — even as he praised his own staff.
"Today's" 852-week winning streak had taken on a life of its own and as odd as it is to see it end, we should acknowledge just how remarkable it has been. So as we tip our caps to the team at 'Good Morning America,' we can also take a bow ourselves and recognize the work done by countless staffers for so long."
He added: "It is not an overstatement to call it one of the most incredible achievements in television history, one that is not likely to ever happen again. While the streak has been wonderful affirmation of our work, it has never defined us, and we will continue to innovate, take chances and lead the way."
ABC's ratings victory came a week after "GMA" featured former "Today" host Katie Couric as a guest anchor. NBC countered by adding her "lamestream media" nemesis, Sarah Palin, as a guest host for a day.
NBC beat ABC on four days out of five in the week Couric co-hosted.
"Today" is one of fourth-place NBC's most successful and profitable shows, and in the same week of the Couric faceoff, it announced that it had signed anchor Matt Lauer for a new long-term contract.