During a recent NBC News Group’s upfront presentation in NYC, Matt Lauer tried to laugh off persistent rumors that The Today Show was severely damaged by the recent – and constant – negative media attention. The truth is, the New York Times says, he is the only real problem the show has.
In what can’t but be described as a scathing piece on Lauer and how his and the network’s bad moves in recent months have made The Today fall way behind Good Morning America in the ratings, the NYT explains how Lauer is losing the public vote.
It all started with Ann Curry’s departure from the show, the piece argues.
Even if he had nothing to do with her being fired, which he probably hadn’t, the fact that he kept his silence for all these months only made him look guilty in the eyes of the viewers at home.
The more he kept quiet and acted like nothing was wrong, the more his former fans became estranged from him.
His very relationship with his audience is “in peril,” the NYT says and his recent decision to finally speak out on the matter might be coming a little too late.
“Mr. Lauer’s year is a lesson in how a combination of missteps — NBC’s and his own — can precipitate a star’s fall,” the publication writes.
It’s not just talk either: while The Today’s ratings speak volumes, so do the figures reflecting Lauer’s dwindling popularity.
“Mr. Lauer’s Q Score — a measure of likability, treated as gospel by the TV industry — has fallen by more than half since he was paired with Ms. Curry in June 2011. It was a 19 that September; by this January it was a 9,” the NYT says.
“For the first time his counterpart on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos, has a higher score. For Mr. Lauer ‘the drop started happening in the beginning of 2012, and it’s slowly eroded since then,’ said Henry Schafer of Marketing Evaluations, the company that surveys thousands of viewers to come up with the scores. NBC executives said its focus groups found otherwise,” adds the same media outlet.
NBC bosses and even producers of The Today Show might deny all they want that the ratings slump is Lauer’s doing, but the fact remains unchanged: as long as viewers at home perceive him as the sole responsible, there will be no way out of this predicament.
So what the network should start considering is a new PR strategy, the publication suggests.
“What NBC may do next, according to outsiders contacted by the network, is add another cast member to Today. Even if the person appeared only on the 9 a.m. hour, which Mr. Lauer is not a part of, such an addition would make Today more of an ensemble show, seemingly less dependent on his star power,” the NYT says.
The full piece on Matt Lauer and The Today’s struggle to get back to being a viable competitor in the ratings race is available here as well.