As expected Lisa Wilkinson has become the fifth woman in almost two years to be brought in by the Nine Network to try and stop the rot at the Today Show.
Why only the women have been changed — Tracy Grimshaw, Jessica Rowe, Sarah Murdoch, Kellie Connolly — is now beyond a joke.
Is Karl Stefanovic a protected species? After all, he and Richard Wilkins have been tried and found wanting by viewers — so why aren’t they boning candidates?
Or is Nine’s blokey management saying that Karl and the other men are holding the floundering ship together? The problems are more deep-seated than many commentators realise.
Today is being beaten from 6am onwards. The early Today show from 6 to 7am is being trounced by early Sunrise; yesterday early Sunrise had 219,000 viewers, early Today just 109,000.
Sunrise at 7am jumped to average 434,000, Today rose to 247,000. Nine would argue that Today did better because it more than doubled its audience, but that was from a very low base.
In fact Sunrise lifted its lead from 110,000 between 6 and 7am to 187,000 between 7am and 9am.
The weakness is in both shows, but the feeble start to the day will mean Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic always start behind the game when the real competition starts at 7am.
Early Today has too many talking heads (too much sport, too much finance) in the studio. People don’t mind it but they are often hurrying with lunches, kids, showers, coffee and dressing. They don’t pay much attention, they need news sport, traffic and weather, easily and frequently.
Looking at both early programs, Sunrise has a faster pace and doesn’t demand as much of viewers: Today from 6am to 7am has a lot more studio stuff (or so it seems) with a slower pace.
Nine says it has some changes in store for Today. My advice: make them at 6am to 7am first and try and give the program better traction against Sunrise. By 7am it’s too little too late.
The big issue is the location of both studios: Sunrise in the Seven studios in Martin Place in Sydney more open and exposed to the city; Today in a studio complex in suburban Willoughby. Its look and feeling screams TV set, even though there are windows.