It’s remarkable that the co-host of a program that has lost heavily this year to its bitter rival can generate so much publicity for a move from what is the current top-rating network, to the third-placed, free-to-air business that is still to emerge from bankruptcy and which on Sunday night recorded one of its lowest main channel shares for a Sunday night for years. But that’s what we see this Tuesday morning with the dying legacy newspapers feasting off the news in print, on radio and websites about the shock move by Nine’s Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson to move to the Ten network to become the highest paid woman on Australian TV.
There is a degree of irony in the co-host of a barely watched (compared to the evening news broadcasts and programs like The Block) TV program can generate the news splash as Wilkinson’s move has done this morning. The irony is further added to by the fact that Today’s ratings have gone backwards this year from last year’s wining effort in the five metro markets. That has been in part due to the resurgence at Sunrise and claims that Karl Stefanovic self-inflicted marital discord and then new relationship has somehow damaged his standing with viewers, especially female viewers. That is the tabloid gossip columnists’ view, no doubt after sampling the trolls on Facebook and Twitter. Sunrise co-host Sam Armytage has been badly trolled (by the Daily Mail for instance) for the past several years and while hurt personally, it has not had an impact on Sunrise’s ratings performance this year.