Carson Daly, longtime host of NBC‘s late-night show Last Call, and host of the network’s primetime singing competition The Voice, has joined NBC News’ Today as its “digital doorman,” he said this morning. Daly will be holed up in this Orange Room on the struggling morning infotainment show’s new set, which will be unveiled Monday. “Orange Room,” NBC said this morning, “is the nexus point between the Today audience and the show, embracing the many ways that viewers seek out and share news across all media and allowing the show and its fans to connect in a variety of new ways. In a casual, lounge-like setting, the Orange Room will also be a hub of emerging technology, equipped for everything from social media hangouts, to extended live-stream interviews with Today guests, analysis of real-time social data and reactions from the web, as well as the home for Today’s original digital franchises.” Pop quiz tomorrow.
It’s probably no coincidence NBC tossed out its latest Today show bright shiny light the same day ABC was set to issue its weekly morning infotainment-show ratings report. In the report, ABC notes that, season-to-date, GMA is seeing its largest overall season audience in more than 21 years and its best 25-54 performance in five years, and that it has had the largest overall audience among morning infotainment shows the past 55 consecutive weeks — and that GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo! reached 22 million users last month, and is the No. 1 morning-news website, beating Today.com by millions of viewers each month.
UPDATE: Today’s announcement throws into question — again — the fate of Last Call. Daly’s out as host, but will remain an exec producer on the show, the network said this morning, adding that a “transition” plan would be announced “at a later date” — which industry insiders assume means “lickety split” since the show should already have gone into production for its new season. It’s not the first time Last Call has been on the block. What started as a straight talk show, morphed into a half-hour mix of interviews and pre-taped location music performances over the years as ratings declined and budgets were cut. When it debuted way back in 2002, Last Call clocked about 1.4 million viewers – 417,000 of them in the target 18-34 demo (and 850,000 of them in the 18-49 demo). It peaked in ’04 with an average audience of 1.6 million (525,000 in 18-34), but has been sliding slowly since. This season it’s averaging 875,000 viewers (149,000 in 18-34). That said, for the first 10 weeks of the third quarter, Last Call has moved ahead of CBS’s Late Late Show by a teensy margin in 18-34 (145,000 vs. 144,000).
Daly will continue to host The Voice, because NBC’s not going to mess with what has been one of the few non-football bright spots on its fall primetime slate. He’ll also continue to host his radio show, he said. “What a great addition to our team #welcomecarson!” Today‘s Matt Lauer tweeted this morning.
“This feel likes an intervention,” Daly joked on the program this morning as he underwent the traditional Today unveiling on a show couch, which was stuffed with regulars. On an interview for NBC’s Web site, he’d said that when he’d got the call asking if he wanted to be the Orange Room master of ceremonies, “it was like a dream come true. You know that scene in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, where Charlie peels back the wrapper and finds the golden ticket? I felt like I got the golden ticket.”