A surprise win for the TODAY show brings new hope for Channel 9

It’s been a tough year for Nine’s breakfast show but the network is hoping results in one key market is a sign of things to come

Sam Armytage and David Koch host Sunrise on 7, which is facing a battle in Brisbane

To those in the know, Brisbane is one of the most important television markets in the country. Seen as a ‘swing state’ (yes, I know it’s a city, not a state – but you get the idea), it’s filled with people more likely to change their TV viewing habits before the rest of the country.

And the thinking goes that if you win Brisbane you will eventually win nationally.

If you can remember back to a time when Channel 7’s Sunrise wasn’t the number 1 breakfast show, it was the Brisbane market that first started to ‘make the switch’.

Eventually, the rest of the country caught up and Sunrise stole the ratings crown from TODAY. It’s hard to imagine now, but this was a major shake-up as the TODAY show had been number 1 for decades. It really can’t be underplayed what a major deal it was to have the Channel 7 show winning – it completely made Nine rethink everything they were doing.

Since that time, especially in breakfast, Brisbane has been the market executives look to for hopes of what might come. So, you can imagine Channel 9 is hoping history repeats itself with news the TODAY show has won that market for the past 4 weeks.

TODAY has beaten Sunrise in Brisbane for the past 4 weeks

While the past four weeks have been good for the TODAY show, Sunrise is still in front no matter what way you look at it. Channel 7’s breakfast offering has won 26 weeks to 6 weeks in the market and is averaging 61,000 to 56,000. Sources at Seven say this is their best result in Brisbane for years as the two are usually closer.

Lisa Millarand Michael Rowland are set to become the #2 breakfast show (image – The Australian)

The question is whether a new trend is developing and whether Nine can hold onto that momentum. Executives at Nine are hoping the recent trend in Brisbane is a sign of things to come, but sources at Seven say that thinking is outdated and no longer true. They point to the fact TODAY did very well in Brisbane in 2018 but no trend developed. That is certainly true but we also need to remember the show underwent a major overhaul with the removal of host Karl Stefanovic, thus eliminating any momentum in that market.

There is no denying a four-week run is impressive and I am part of the old guard that still looks to Brisbane for early indicators of what might happen nationally. However, TODAY is battling to hold on to its number 2 spot after falling behind ABC News Breakfast in the 5 cap cities. The Michael Rowland and Lisa Miller alternative is trending to officially become the #2 breakfast show with 13 weeks in the #2 spot as versus TODAY’s 10 weeks.

How the breakfast TV ratings are playing out (Source: Steve Molk)

While Nine knows the recovery process for the TODAY show will take time after a turbulent few years, Seven points to the fact Sunrise has won every week and every day of 2020 and is number 1 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, the east coast, 5 city metro, nationally and regionally.

In fact Sunrise has grown in audience since 2019 and in 2019 it had grown its 2018 audience.

While all of this is true the last thing Seven wants is to have any chinks in the armour. Perception is everything in this game and if TODAY does the unthinkable and ends up winning the Brisbane market, Nine can spin that as a major win while Seven will be putting out fires.

Being a dominant Number 1 comes with some drawbacks – any loss, no matter how small, can be seen as a major defeat.

Over the course of the next few weeks you can expect a lot of effort to be put into the Brisbane market. If the Queensland border wasn’t closed due to COVID-19, I can guarantee both shows would be broadcasting live from the sunshine state.

Robert McKnight
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 25 years in the industry. Publicly he is most well-known for creating and producing STUDIO 10 but has worked on Sunrise, The Morning Show plus other prime time productions in addition to creating award-winning news campaigns for both 7 News and 9 News. Currently Rob is the host and producer of the TV Blackbox, McKnight Tonight and Monsters Who Murder podcasts plus host & Executive Producer of the video streaming show The Ben, Rob & Robbo show

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  1. Hi

    What can I say .well here I go

    I live in Cairns work there and also in New Zealand .

    Channel night breakfast show is so great Karl is simple the best ..hes cool and funny Ally is also cool

    Watching the show you are never bored

    You bring happiest into this unfortunately sad world.

    I’m lucky as I have a fantastic job .. I love it and I’m bless to work with my people Indigenous ..I say whats there not to like about living con Cairns and the world.

    Cheers Lillyanna

  2. So happy Karl is back on Today. And with Ally and that lovely weatherman , Brooke and Dicky it’s a pleasure to start my day with them. This is a bunch of loving, kind generous people and this show is miles ahead of Sunrise. Well done nine. You have got it right. Please keep this wonderful team together.

    • Not everyone enjoys the same thing .
      But …we don’t have to impart our thoughts on others in such a harsh comment ..
      A lot of lonely people living alone enjoy seeing and hearing people on morning television for company.
      In future please the ink before you’re so quick to judge ?

  3. Karl and Ally make the Today Show a program l eagerly turn on at 5.30 am.
    Both totally professional with so much empathy ..but a great happy fun side which is a great balance ..obviously good long time friends
    Take them OFF AIR ..and l along with my family and friends will be turning channel 9 OFF .
    Good work Karl and Ally

  4. Sad to read your comment..
    Think before you write !!
    Clearly you’ve got a busy life with no time for a coffee in front of the television.
    However for elderly such as myself and living alone seeing and hearing people on television is nice company.

    • Hi Helen – it takes a bit of time for comments to be approved initially. As best I can see all your comments are on the post and visible.

  5. I can honestly say that the chemistry between Karl & Ally is off the chart. The cheeky banter between the two is hilarious and also can be serious as well. Karl is just like that naughty like school boy that never grew up!! I absolutely love him. One cannot help but LOL when he cracks himself up & literally loses it on air!! Ally is that stabilising party it’s the perfect balance. I have always and will continue to WAKE UP WITH TODAY!! It totally blows it’s competitors out of the water!!! Great move Channel 9 .

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