'It's a Total Fiasco:' NBC's Long-Running 'Today' Morning Show Hits Ratings Rock Bottom


NBC’s long-running “Today” morning show experienced a collapse in viewership last week with its smallest audience in 30 years.

The show failed to pass the 3 million viewer threshold during the week of July 12-16 and averaged 2.9 million viewers, Fox News reported.

Viewership dropped 8 percent from the week before and 23 percent from the same week in 2020, according to TVNewser. The show used to surpass 6 million viewers on a regular basis during its prime.

“It’s a total fiasco,” a longtime network news veteran with knowledge of the show’s inner discussions said, according to Fox News.

“The show has lost its role [as a] cultural touchstone. There are obviously bigger industry trends at play but the show is a non-factor.”

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“Today” has averaged 3.2 million viewers in 2021, losing about 10 percent of its total viewership in 2020.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” beat “Today” by its largest margin in total viewers since Jan. 4 and by its largest margin in adults 25-54 in over five years, according to TVNewser.

Both morning talk shows have seen a recent decline in viewership.

Fox News noted celebrities no longer have to rely on network morning shows for promotion as there are many more options to reach Americans in the social media age.

Do you watch the "Today" show?

Other critics have pointed to the show’s coverage of former President Donald Trump as a reason for a decline in viewership.

“Like countless other outlets and shows in recent months, the ‘Today’ show has seen their number of watchers decline considerably since President Trump left office, even as they continue to focus coverage on the former president,” freelance writer Drew Holden told Fox News.

“For years, ‘Today’ invested in ginning up political outrage to grab eyeballs, at the expense of trying to understand the storylines and topics that people are actually interested in.”

“Non-stop political coverage may’ve helped juice the numbers for a while, but at the end of the day, it isn’t what people want from ‘Today’ or most other shows like it,” Holden added.

Media critic Jeffrey McCall said that people don’t want to start their day with news following a depressing year of it.

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“After a bruising 2020 election year and the depressing coverage of COVID, it is no wonder that viewers don’t want to start their day with news shows, even with the chatty features sprinkled in,” McCall told Fox News.

“Frankly, the news agenda is hardly more positive in 2021, with crime, border problems, inflation, and COVID variants needing to be covered.

“Audiences are exhausted and it is difficult for smiling morning hosts like Savannah Guthrie to put a happy face on this dismal news environment. It is worth noting that the total viewers for ‘Today’ are less than half of what the show drew twenty years ago when Katie Couric was the star of morning news.”

NBC usually experiences record viewership ratings in the midst of the Olympics, but McCall said that so far, that has not happened.

“That this is not happening might be a bad sign for public interest in the Olympics generally, and that will hurt NBC’s overall Olympics viewership,” he said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith