Remember when NBC’s “Today” was the undisputed daily network morning program in America? It reigned over the other two broadcast networks, raking in so many viewers that it seemed like defeating the Peacock’s crown jewel would be an impossible feat. Then back in 2012; what them seemed impossible would became reality; “Good Morning America” pummeled “Today” breaking its long winning streak. For the first time in nearly 16 years, “Today” wouldn’t place first in the ratings. “Today’s” ratings stumble were the result of a number of factors plague the program. America, with encouragement from some in the media began accusing the show’s longtime anchor Matt Lauer as the orchestrator of Ann Curry’s removal from the show. Whether or not he played a role in her dismissal from “Today,” Lauer was the most visible target and shouldered the brunt of the viewer backlash. Curry’s emotional on-air exit didn’t do NBC any favors, in fact it probably was the final nail to prevent them from retaking the top spot. Many felt the network mishandled the anchor transition and it left a bad taste with many Americans. It is only fair to point out that during Curry’s time as co-anchor, “Today” lost significant ground to “GMA”.
Fast forward to the present, “Good Morning America” has been kicking butt in the ratings ever since. Even after a minor setback, losing two members of the ratings buster team; weather anchor Sam Champion and newsreader Josh Elliott to NBC owned properties, “GMA” is still beating “Today” more often than not. When Elliott departed “GMA” for NBC Sports it was with the promise of participating in NBC’s Olympic coverage. Elliott is a seasoned sports journalist, having worked previously at ESPN.
Elliott’s departure from ABC kicked off rumors that he would eventually replace Lauer because of all the backlash. There’s no indication that the network dumping Lauer for Elliott, however most rumor have a drop of truth to them. Elliott has appeared on “Today” since joining NBC for various sports related segments. This week however, Elliott was on “Today” twice, filling in as news anchor. Elliott’s first time anchoring on “Today,” rival to his former show was likely not a coincidence. Page Six pointed out that Elliott’s noncompete clause; which is typical in the industry, has expired. So you can say that Elliott has been taken off the proverbial leash. NBC may wish to drop Elliott in to fill in for anyone of the “Today” anchors going forward. It’s just another jab in the morning ratings war and possibly payback a comment made by a “GMA” producer after the show won its Emmy category, “I think this is what happens when five anchors on a show actually like each other.”