By RICK KISSEL
The evening news ratings derby isn't the only hotly contested news daypart these days, with NBC's "Today" making things interesting in the morning wars by scoring a rare demo victory over ABC's "Good Morning America."
While "GMA" is on its way to a third straight seasonal crown, "Today" last week edged ahead of "Good Morning America" in adults 25-54 (1.50 to 1.48 in rating/1.793 million to 1.765 million in 25-54 viewers), according to national estimates from Nielsen. This is the strongest position for "Today" relative to its ABC rival since February 2014, when NBC was the morning ratings leader during its coverage of the Winter Olympics.
"Today" has beaten "GMA" in adults 25-54 on 20 days during 2015, including six of the last 10 over the past two weeks. The NBC show has had momentum early in the week, winning Monday through Wednesday while ABC has taken Thursday and Friday.
In total viewers, "Good Morning America" (5.083 million) retained a fairly comfortable lead over "Today" (4.809 million), but year-to-date this was the closest finish in this category for the NBC program.
"CBS This Morning" remained a distant third, but its 3.724 million viewers was the network's largest for its morning show in more than 11 years (since February 2004). As a result, this is the Eye's closest competitive position with NBC in more than 20 years (since December 1994). In adults 25-54, "CBS This Morning" (0.88 rating, 1.057 million) was the only morning broadcast program to rise vs. the same frame a year ago.
CBS News also was looking good in the Sunday public affairs battle, as its "Face the Nation" (1.083 million adults 25-54, 3.696 million viewers overall for its first half-hour) last week easily beat the hourlong averages of NBC's "Meet the Press" (786,000 adults 25-54, 2.610 million viewers overall) and ABC's "This Week" (759,000 adults 25-54, 2.475 million viewers overall). (The second half of "Face the Nation," which has reduced national coverage of about 76%, averaged 664,000 adults 25-54 and 2.211 million viewers overall and isn't included in the program's overall average.)