Has Seven finally found the key to breakfast TV ratings success – an all-female presenting team?
With David “Kochie” Koch currently on sick leave, the Sunrise hosting duties have been left solely to Sam Armytage and Natalie Barr.
Typically a tight race with arch-rival Nine’s Today, Sunrise has been off to a flyer since the ratings period began in mid-January. Yesterday, Sunrise boasted OzTam figures of 481,000 metro and regional viewers to Today’s 370,000. Or, 38,000 more metro viewers overall.
Another theory for Sunrise’s early form was that bosses chose to keep at least one regular host on the couch over the summer period. It also didn’t scrimp on talent during the softer, non-ratings period boasting A-list guests that included Sam Smith, Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.
Nine’s Today also found itself in some strife after it was accused of plagiarising a BBC promo “word for word” over summer. Read B&T’s story on that here.
The other theory could be that viewers are switching allegiances following Lisa Wilkinson’s much-publicised departure from Nine over to Ten’s The Project.
Today has also been plagued by speculation that its host Karl Stefanovic was paid considerably more than his female counterparts, while it’s been reported his divorce from his wife of 21 years, Cassandra Thorburn, dented his popularity with Today’s predominately female audience.
However, an article on Fairfax Media on Tuesday suggested that Wilkinson’s departure from Nine had little impact on Today’s viewer numbers.
Under the headline “The myth of Lisa? Wilkinson departure does little to Today show ratings” the article said “Wilkinson’s departure from the Nine Network has had little effect on the Today show’s ratings.”
It added: “Sources close to Wilkinson cited her immense popularity among Nine viewers as the reason for her demanding more pay and, ultimately, jumping ship to Network Ten. Nine has replaced Wilkinson with Gardner, a former Today show newsreader who is considered a safe pair of hands.”