For 16 years, the "Today" show reigned supreme in the morning television ratings, never beaten by any of their competition. However the mighty fortress of "Today" is beginning to shows signs of weakness as their rival "Good Morning America" came out ahead in the ratings twice so far this spring. With "Today" being such a long-standing favorite, you cannot help but ponder what has lead viewers to make the switch.
The biggest and most noticeable change in the "Today" show recently is clearly the loss of Meredith Vieira who was in turn replaced with existing "Today" show news anchor, Ann Curry.
Promoting Ann Curry to a lead co-host spot was a bed decision from the start. The "Today" show missed a high-profile opportunity to garner interest in who they might choose as their new co-host by going with Curry. There were so many of other people they could have paired with the ever popular Matt Lauer, and countless of individuals who would have treasured the position. Bringing in candidates and sparking water cooler conversations certainly would have drummed up the anticipation and excitement involved with choosing someone new.
The other big problem lies with Ann Curry herself. If you watch "Today" casually, or even if you are a long-time viewer, ask yourself what you know about her. Is she married? Does she have children? Do you know any fun facts about her: likes or dislikes? Probably not.
Ann Curry is an acceptable, even talented, news anchor, but she is not a television personality by any stretch. She is nice enough, she gets the job done, but similar to the way a piece of toast assuages hunger. Ann Curry smiles, she laughs on cue, she tells a story, leaning in at the right time, but she doesn't draw in viewers. She doesn't make you want to watch her, and when a good portion of the show involves witty banter between the hosts, she is sorely lacking.
If you flip channels to "Good Morning America" -- as many viewers clearly are -- you get an idea of what a co-host can bring to the table when cast correctly. George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts are not only talented hosts with a strong resume of credentials, they are likeable and relatable. They talk about their family, even bringing in Stephanopoulos' wife, Ali Wentworth, for a surprise birthday strip-tease . Robin Roberts speaks of her mother often, and has garnered much publicity and praise for a book she wrote about her.
Even though viewers no doubt recognize that there is a scripted conversation involved in morning television, Stephanopoulos and Roberts come across as real people. They have families, hardships, and triumphs, and when they laugh, fans believe it's because they find something amusing, and not because a cue card told them to do so.
If "Today" has any hopes of regaining their long-held title as king of morning television, they have no other option than to replace Ann Curry. They could boost ratings just by creating hoopla around a possible replacement -- bring in candidates to try out co-hosting with Matt Lauer for a week at a time. Maybe even allow viewers to participate in the final choice by voting online. Ann Curry could go back to doing the news for "Today," but it seems a clean break from Curry might be what is best. It doesn't seem likely many viewers would object to her departure.
The "Today" show had been scoring big ratings and winning the competition of morning television for years, but when they moved Ann Curry into the co-host role they fumbled big time. If they want any chance at reclaiming what they once had, they need to cut their losses and bid Ann Curry farewell.
Marisa Guthrie, " 'Good Morning America' beats 'Today' for Second Time in 16 Years" hollywoodreporter.com