Today vs Sunrise: The ratings are in
TODAY'S new-look team starring Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon has delivered a strong debut, scoring a healthy ratings boost for its first weekday show.
The revamped panel - which also features sports reporter Alex Cullen, newsreader Tracy Vo, entertainment reporter Brooke Boney and weather presenter Tim Davies - managed to pull in an average of 226,000 (five city metro) viewers on Monday. While Nine's breakfast program still trailed behind Sunrise's 293,000, it's an undeniably positive start for the struggling show.
Comparatively, former Today hosts Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight's first show of 2019 debuted to 197,000 last year - a 15 per cent gap from yesterday's number.
The result is certain to have caused some relief over at the Nine Network this morning, but the mammoth task of turning around a lengthy run of horror ratings has only just begun - and the big question will be whether the new team can build on that number and become a serious rival for Sunrise once more.
With Gardner and Knight at the helm in 2019, the show experienced record low ratings, with its metro audience dipping below 200,000 for the first time. In March last year, ABC's News Breakfast drew in more viewers nationally than Today for the first time. And at the start of November, Today suffered its worst result for the year, attracting just 155,000 viewers in the five capital cities.
While Monday's result is certainly a good sign, nothing short of beating Sunrise can really be branded "a success" for Today according to Rob McKnight, editor of TV Blackbox and a former executive producer of Studio 10.
"If the (Today) show starts getting over 200,000 metro viewers each day Nine will call that a success, but it's not," McKnight previously told news.com.au. "Success is beating Sunrise, it's that simple.
"I expect Karl to bring back some of his followers so we should see a boost, and their goal should be 250,000 metro viewers daily. That would still be a loss to Sunrise but at least they could hang their hat on real improvements. Anything below 220,000 will have been a waste of time and effort."
Stefanovic and Langdon were originally slated to make their big debut this week, but Nine bosses made the decision to bring it forward to last Saturday, January 4 in light of the ongoing bushfire crisis coverage.
Viewers were quick to praise the obvious chemistry between the pair, who have already offered up plenty of on-screen banter during their first few days on air.
In one particularly entertaining moment during Monday's Golden Globes coverage, the new hosts crossed to US correspondent Charles Croucher who described the ceremony as "the drunker awards".
Without missing a beat, Langdon joked, "Karl will be right at home."
"It's your comparison, Ally, not mine," Croucher replied.
The joke was in reference to Stefanovic's infamous drunken appearance on the Today show the morning after the 2009 Logies.
Despite much of this week's episodes being dedicated to bushfire coverage, the co-hosts managed to keep the show light and entertaining with several jokes at each other's expense.
At one point in yesterday's show when discussing his bad night's sleep, Stefanovic said, "I woke up and there were fireworks going on, actual fireworks", to which Langdon cheekily replied, "In the bedroom?"
Stefanovic also took the mickey out of himself when chatting about Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon's Apple TV+ show Morning Wars.
In the drama, which is nominated for three Golden Globes, Steve Carell plays the host of a breakfast TV show who is sacked amid a sexual misconduct scandal.
"I can't stand it … way too close to home," Stefanovic joked on air this morning. "Egotistical male host? Unrealistic, unrealistic."
"Luckily there's none in this room," Langdon said.