NBC's "Today" held off "Good Morning America" in the ratings for three of the first four days of this week, despite the addition of former "Today" anchor Katie Couric guest-hosting "GMA."
"Today," the top-rated morning show, typically beats "GMA" by more than half a million total viewers. On Thursday, "Today" led by 435,000. It had 5.07 million total viewers, down from its seasonal average of 5.4 million. "GMA" had 4.64 million, down from its average of 4.9 million.
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"Today" also beat "GMA" Monday and Tuesday, though "GMA" had more total viewers Wednesday. (It beat "Today" twice last week.)
In the adults 25-54 demo most important to advertisers, "Today" won Monday through Thursday. But the margin was narrowest on Thursday, when "GMA" came within 228,000 viewers. "Today" usually wins by 442,000 viewers in the key demo. On Thursday, "Today" had 2.09 million viewers 25-54, while "GMA" had 1.86 million.
Friday marked a big week for all the networks, as CBS featured an interview with Oprah Winfrey Monday and NBC brought in Sarah Palin on Tuesday to counter her "lamestream media" nemesis, Couric.
NBC got the best long-term news of the week when it announced Thursday that it had signed "Today" co-host Matt Lauer for a new contract to keep him at the helm of "Today." The show is one of the most successful for the fourth-place network.