Five months after slipping behind “Good Morning America” in the morning ratings, NBC’s “Today” has announced that it is removing its current lineup including Matt Lauer and changing its longstanding format entirely. Demoting universally respected hard news anchor Ann Curry in favor of Savannah Guthrie did not boost ratings as expected, forcing the network to again make changes – this time in a drastic, and some say desperate, manner.
Comedian Daniel Tosh, who currently hosts “Tosh.0” on The Comedy Channel, will take the reins of the new “Today” and will feature popular web content instead of the hard news topics for which “Today” has been historically known. Offerings will range from funny YouTube clips featuring pets and groin shots to celebrity news such as outrageous Jersey Shore and Kardashian tweets. A running tweet ticker will run across the screen to give everyday users a chance to seize their moment of fame as well. The network believes that reduced costs due to staff and salary reductions paired with the almost nonexistent production costs for this kind of content will make this move a financial as well as a ratings winner. The new changes take place starting October 1st.
“I really can’t believe it. This really is beyond a desperate move, ” said industry insider Samuel Barnes. “They are essentially folding up shop and conceding the entire morning block to ABC. They really have no earthly idea what they are doing over there.”
NBC News President Steve Capus disagreed. “We are really just on the cusp of this social media evolution that’s happening. People are really not interested in learning anything about the world during this time slot. Evaluations of the popularity of our recent segments coupled with extensive focus group work have shown that people respond more favorably to funny video clips, slanderous online postings, and celebrity tweets by a margin of 3-to-1 over anything even remotely resembling actual news. And I am confident the ratings will end up validating this bold strategic vision. It won’t be long before the other networks will be following suit.”
The network hopes that Tosh will bring his audience, which he describes as “drunken college slackers” from his Comedy Central show to his new slot. NBC executives point to the fact that Tosh.0 viewers are mostly unemployed and will easily be able to watch “Today” all the way until 10:00am. Al Roker will no longer provide the weather for the show, because “people get their weather from the internet anyway”, but Willard Scott will remain in his role of wishing birthdays to centenarians and promoting Smuckers products.