It’s been a rocky start for the Today show in 2019 with ratings faltering following a shakeup of the hosting panel.
Now Channel Nine has clarified the action that’s been taken since Georgie Gardner began fronting the new look show with Karl Stefanovic’s replacement, Deborah Knight.
Following reports by The Daily Telegraph that the network held “closed door crisis meetings” this week, Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Darren Wick, says “We’re not about to hit the panic button”.
The publication had claimed the results of 2019 focus groups indicated audiences perceived Georgie as “cold” and “an ice maiden”, but Wick says in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle, “We haven’t as yet commissioned any focus groups for the Today Show, let alone held them in 2019″.
“Nine conducted a number of focus groups throughout the last six months of 2018, under my supervision, and the feedback from those viewers was overwhelmingly positive about Georgie Gardner,” he continues.
“She rated head and shoulders above every other on-air presenter. And that’s consistent with all Today Show focus groups we’ve held during the last seven years, while I’ve been in the National News Director role.
“I don’t shy away from the weaker numbers the Today Show has recorded in 2019. But just five weeks into a new team on-air, we’re not about to hit the panic button. We’ve been through this battle before with other programs, where a section of the media is quick to write us off. We’re in for the long haul.”
According to The Daily Telegraph, the show hit its “lowest ratings in 10 years” last month with rival breakfast program Sunrise still coming up on top.
At the end of last year, long-time presenter Karl Stefanovic – along with brother Peter Stefanovic and his wife Sylvia Jeffreys – was culled from Today in order for the show to take a “new focus” in 2019.
Richard Wilkins, veteran entertainment reporter for the show, has also taken a step back from his role on Today as a part of the shakeup – instead he has joined Sonia Kruger onToday Extra on Thursdays and Fridays.
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