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. Ms. 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.
“It’s been a little turbulent as of late,” he said. “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.”
Mr. Lauer said he expected that ratings improvement would come.
“At the moment, we’ve got a brand new team, we’re getting to know each other and we’re not looking at tomorrow, we’re looking down the road,” he said.
On the “Today” set people still joke around about flubbing Ms. Guthrie’s name as Stephanie or Susannah, Al Roker said. But Ms. Guthrie is a good sport about it, he said.
Ms. Guthrie said the London experience has exceeded her expectations.
“It’s been full of energy, full of enthusiasm,” she said. “It’s impossible not to get caught up in the sports that are going on, the athletes’ stories, and it’s a great time for all of us to be together, too.”
Last Friday, when the guests included Olympic gymnastics champion Gabby Douglas, “Today” had 6.5 million viewers to the 4.1 million people who watched “Good Morning America.” That was the largest single-day margin of victory for “Today” since the Beijing Olympics four years ago, Nielsen said.
“Good Morning America” noted that despite last week’s viewership switch, its show still had more viewers than it did four years ago during the Beijing Olympics.
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