London Olympics huge boost to NBC's 'Today' show

Associated Press Modified: August 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC's hopes that the London Olympics would boost the struggling "Today" show have been rewarded and then some.

The once-dominant morning news show beat ABC's "Good Morning America" by an average of 1.6 million viewers each day last week, the Nielsen ratings company said Monday. That's the most dominant week for "Today" since the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

It meant some 2 million viewers switched channels in the morning from the previous week, a startling reversal for a time of day when habits are hard to break. "Good Morning America" had won each of the previous five weeks, and its margin of 543,000 viewers over "Today" the week before the Olympics was the ABC show's largest in 17 years.

NBC has sent its morning show team to London for broadcasts heavy on Olympic content and has reaped the benefits with the Games proving more popular in the United States than most observers expected.

NBC also is using the Olympic telecasts to introduce Savannah Guthrie to viewers. Guthrie took over from Ann Curry a month ago as co-host with Matt Lauer and, until London, viewers had been cold to the change.

Lauer called the Olympics, which have featured big medal hauls for U.S. swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin and gold for the U.S. women's gymnastics team, "a nice shot in the arm."

"It's been a little turbulent as of late," he said from London. "I think that might be the understatement of the year, but I think on a daily basis we try not to concentrate on that day's ratings. We try to concentrate on that day's show. We can do a fantastic show, and if the next day we wake up and the ratings don't quite correspond, it doesn't make us feel worse about the show we did. And the opposite is true."

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