ABC News will officially announce tomorrow that Good Morning America has won the morning infotainment war for a full TV season. It marks GMA‘s first victory since the 1992-93 season in the news demographic, and in total viewers for the first time since the 1993-1994 TV season when the show was co-hosted by Charlie Gibson and Joan Lunden. GMA not only won every week of the season in total viewers (it won 43 weeks in the news demo), it also copped the No. 1-rated telecast of each of those weeks. For the full 51-week season (Nielsen specialed-out Hurricane Sandy Week owing to massive schedule, and reception, interruption), GMA clocked about 5.3 million total viewers and nearly 2 million adults 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Growing for a third straight year — up 9% compared to last season’s total viewer average of around 4.9 million — GMA won the 2012-13 season with its largest overall audience and largest season margin (about 680,000 viewers) over No. 2-ranked Today in more than 21 years. In adults 25-54, GMA also increased for the third year in a row — up 4% compared to last season’s demo average of 1.897 million — to deliver its strongest news demo performance in 5 seasons, and beat Today by its biggest news demo gap — nearly 90,000 — in 21 years.
How did GMA do it? Among other things, the program has The Best Storylines. Ever. There’s the Robin Roberts’ health storyline — last week on the show she celebrated the one-year anniversary of the bone marrow transplant she underwent as part of her treatment for MDS — myelodysplastic syndrome (see the video clips below). Doctors told her she got MDS as a result of her treatment for breast cancer five years earlier. Then there’s the Sam Champion relationship storyline — last December the show celebrated the weatherman marriage to Rubem Robierb. Morning viewers love personal cast storylines — the week that each cast member on CBS’ The Talk revealed a personal secret, that program bagged record ratings to start its new TV season. Plus, GMA has gotten loads of ratings mileage moving along ABC storylines rooted in primetime. The Dancing With The Stars storyline has provided GMA with some of its biggest numbers and, to a lesser degree, The Bachelor storyline has also done well. Today‘s most memorable recent storyline, meanwhile, has been the Did Matt Lauer Push Out Ann Curry storyline. And while that one will surely go into in the Morning Infotainment Show Storyline Hall of Fame, if only for its longevity (Curry got the hook in June 2012 and Lauer’s still pushing it along in an Esquire interview this month), it’s the kind of storyline that makes morning viewers uncomfortable, and does not help ratings, as NBC has discovered.