“We are thrilled that the team is locked in and that the [Stephanopoulos] deal was done so quickly,” ABC News said this morning. That in marked contrast to the long-running storyline about the division’s talks with GMA regulars Josh Elliott and Sam Champion — both of whom wound up being poached by NBC. Elliott went to NBC Sports and Champion to NBC co-owned The Weather Channel. Lara Spencer, whose contract came up around the same time as Elliott’s and Champion’s, re-signed to GMA in March, and recently was promoted to co-anchor. Elliott and Champion were replaced by Amy Robach and Ginger Zee, respectively.
Stephanopoulos’ contract was not set to expire until the end of the calendar year. But, given the GMA talent churn, the deal was an important one to close for new ABC News chief James Goldston, who is in his second week on the job. Terms of the deal, which sources said locks in Stephanopoulos for more than three years, were not disclosed. “We expect him to remain with us for many, many years,” ABC News said coyly of the anchor, who has been with GMA since 2010. Robin Roberts signed a lucrative deal to remain with GMA last December.
Per terms of the deal, Stephanopoulos will continue to appear on GMA and This Week at his current rate, a source with knowledge of the situation said. On This Week, he hosts about 50% of the broadcasts. ABC News recently appointed Martha Radditz to host This Week when Stephanopoulos does not.
Word of the deal today came as ABC News announced GMA had outperformed NBC’s Today by nearly 800,000 viewers — 156,000 in the news demo — for the week of April 14. That’s the show’s largest total-viewer margin over Today in six weeks. GMA clocked 5.701 million total viewers — 2.133 million in the news demo — finishing first for the eighth consecutive week. Today logged 4.903 million viewers and 1.977 million in the demo, and 3.116, 984,000 in the news demo. (That said, Today is posting double-digit year-over-year growth in total viewers, the news demo and in 18-49. GMA also is up across the board, and CBS This Morning is up in overall audience, flat in the news demo and down in the younger demo.)
ABC News also reported that This Week With George Stephanopoulos ranked No. 1 in total viewers and the news demo and that, season to date, the program is up by 13% in overall audience and by 11% in the demo compared to a year ago. (Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported this week that NBC News had hired a psychologist to help it figure out what’s gone wrong with its once-dominant Sunday Beltway show, Meet The Press, focusing on its host David Gregory — though NBC News insisted it hired a brand specialist. Gregory took over MTP after its longtime anchor Tim Russert died at the studio in June 2008.)
In fact, all of ABC News programs ranked No. 1 in the news demo last week — also including Nightline (Full disclosure: NBC’s timeslot competitor Late Night with Seth Meyers was in repeats), and World News with Diane Sawyer).