This morning’s news that Willie Geist will take over as host of NBC’s Sunday Today in April gives that No. 3-rated show a jump on the competition as the top-ranking CBS Sunday Morning plans for a future without longtime host Charles Osgood.
The No. 1-rated CBS Sunday Morning continues to dominate the time slot leading in to the Sunday Beltway shows. In overall audience, its 6 million viewers runs laps around ABC’s Sunday edition of Good Morning America (3.8M) and NBC’s Today (3.5M). In the news demo, CBS Sunday Morning (1.6M) likewise oustrips GMA’s 1.2M and Today’s 1.1M.
Notice Today is No. 3 in both metrics. Meanwhile, NBC News is focused on its lead-out program, Meet the Press, which reigned in the ratings for many years under Tim Russert but tumbled with David Gregory in the host chair. Now helmed by Chuck Todd, this TV season to date, MTP ranks No. 1 in the news demo with 999K viewers, followed closely by the 975K of ABC’s This Week and the 936K garnered by CBS’s Face the Nation.
But CBS’ program still has the edge in total viewers — 3.8M to MTP’s 3.6M and This Week’s 3.3M — and many industry pundits give the credit to its commanding lead-in.
NBC News hopes Geist will provide more ratings firepower for its Sunday show. After taking over hosting duties on Sunday Today in April, Geist will continue his current roles on weekday Today and on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said a network insider who had no info as to when Geist will sleep.
No time frame has been set for a CBS Sunday Morning host transition, but word of those talks began leaking in January. The 83-year-old Charles Osgood, who has hosted since 1994, is off the air temporarily after having knee surgery, which he told viewers would keep him sidelined five weeks. Longtime Today show co-host Jane Pauley, who joined the beloved CBS Sunday magazine program in 2014, tops almost all lists of likely replacements; she filled in last Sunday, which was Osgood’s first week off the air post-surgery. And, if this transition is handled in the same orderly way CBS handled its David Letterman/Stephen Colbert late-night transition, you might see the host go out with a bang during May sweeps, perhaps in a baton-passing at CBS’ Carnegie Hall Upfront presentation, with the new host taking questions from a couple hundred Reporters Who Cover Television at Summer TCA Press Tour later in August.