Good Morning America uses different strategies to compete with The Today Show.
Since its debut in 1975, Good Morning America (GMA) has been locked in a ratings war of attrition with NBC’s The Today Show. The two programs constantly go back and forth in the ratings, despite their different styles. Throughout its existence, GMA has tried many different tactics and strategies to claim the top spot in morning programming.
Vast List Of Special Correspondents:
It has been reported that GMA retains a vast list of celebrities as "special correspondents." This strategy has been implemented so the GMA producers have leverage over these celebrities from doing other shows (like the Today Show) by keeping them on retainer.
GMA Broadcast From Times Square Studios:
The GMA studios are located at The Times Square Studios at 1500 Broadway at 44th street. The studios are owned by Disney and the site is the former home of Hotel Claridge (Formerly the Hotel Rector), Beefsteak Charlie's (a low end steakhouse) and the National Theatre.
The new building was built in 1972 and the studio were constructed in 2007 and was designed by Disney Malingering. The exterior features outdoor LED lights and a large news ticker that is visible on many outside broadcasts, not just ABC's.
Broadcasting From Unique Locations:
GMA has a limited budget for broadcasting from other locales. The Today Show on NBC has a huge show budget compared to GMA, with that budget NBC are able to broadcast the show from many unique locations around the world. NBC also owns the exclusive rights to the Olympics, so The Today Show always gets to broadcast from the Olympic village for a couple of weeks and garner huge ratings during that time. To compete, GMA producers decided to broadcast their show from more value-driven locations like the USS Enterprise, The White House, The Pentagon, The Vatican and The Tower of London located in London in the United Kingdom. These trips met with limited success.
Live Musical Performances:
Each May through September, GMA hosts the Summer Concert Series featuring big name pop performers. Performances take place at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Brad Paisley are just a few of the big name stars to have appeared. Admission to most of the concerts simply requires showing up at the park entrance at 72nd street at 6am when the park opens, although some high profile acts have required pre-ticketing through the show's official website. The show also sponsors a Winter Concert Series with performances held in the studio within view of the outside audience and broadcast on the giant LED screens. Occasionally, Times Square itself serves as the venue, as was the case with Taylor Swift's album launch in 2014.
Competition With The Today Show For The Number One Slot:
In the eternal battle for morning show dominance in NYC, The Today Show has been winning the war for many years, sometimes just by a razor thin margin but with changes at Good Morning America , they have managed to nudge NBC's flagship show into 2nd place. Some pundits have described the success down to Robin Robert's warm and open demeanor on the GMA show, but others have claimed that NBC actually gave away the top position after Matt Lauer's poor handling of the firing of Ann Curry. Curry was a longtime favorite on the show, who brought the formal news segment, that at least kept the Today Show appearing that it was still news, not just human interest and pop culture segments strung together in a three-hour melange of mediocrity. Lauer was rumored to have been responsible for Curry's departure. The morning show war continues to rage on with all kinds of shenanigans going on between the two to try to outwit each other, including stealing each other's staffers and signing exclusive contracts with celebrities. While they do battle, CBS This Morning, with a much newsier format and no in-studio audience is rapidly gaining ground on both of them.
Short Lived Spin off Fails:
When looking to fill the time slot left open after canceling One Life to Live after a 43 year run, the executives at ABC decided once again to compete with the Today Show. After the wild success of the zany and sometimes drunky fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, Good Afternoon America, a fluff, pop culture hour long show debuted with Lara Spencer and Josh Elliott as hosts. It was originally slated for a nine week run, with the hopes that it would pick up viewership and serve as the lead in to Katie Couric's daytime show. After abysmal ratings and horrible reviews, ABC decided not to continue past its initial nine week run.
Viewers Love Affair With Robin Roberts:
Robin Roberts, the host of GMA since 2005, has become beloved by viewers due in part to her willingness to share her personal health struggles with the television public. In 2008, she underwent treatment for breast cancer. She used GMA as a platform to bring breast cancer awareness and the importance of mammograms to her viewing audience. In 2012 she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) , a disease of the bone marrow, probably brought on as a side effect of her cancer treatments. Coincidentally, her diagnosis came on the same day that she was told GMA had become the number one morning show. Once more she used her disease to help others. Although her treatment involved getting a bone transplant from her sister, she inspired the viewing public to register at "Be the Match Registry," a non profit which matches donors with those in need. In 2012 she received a Peabody Award for allowing her very private struggle to be turned into a public service campaign. Upon her return after a leave of absence, she publicly thanked her long time girlfriend for her support. In a sign of the times, this was not news to her coworkers and ABC executives, who had known and been accepting of relationship for years. This was also the case with fellow GMA host, Sam Champion. It was not that any years before when coming out meant ratings death for Ellen DeGeneres (The Ellen sitcom) and Rosie O'Donnell (The Rosie Show).
GMA Studio Audience:
GMA has both an inside and outside audience in its Times Square Studios location. GMA, unlike the Today Show, GMA has 100 standing room spots available inside the studio. So, if you show up early and are deemed interesting enough, you may be picked for one of these coveted indoor slots where you will be inches away from the GMA hosts and guests. You may also get a studio tour after the show, but this will only happen if the interns are not busy.
The ticker is so visible, that it is digitally removed from Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast on New Year's Eve, with the Times Square Ball being just a few steps away, as there is nothing worse than New Year's Eve revelers being forced to read hard news updates during the party in the Times Square, often about death and other harrowing news.