The ratings for the first day of the amped-up war between the morning shows are in, and the winner is...
"Today." The NBC morning show came in 333,000 viewers ahead of "GMA" on Monday, according to Nielsen. It drew 5.113 million total viewers versus 4.78 million for "GMA. "Today" also topped "GMA" by 444,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic, with 2.204 million viewers versus 1.76 million viewers.
"CBS This Morning," which featured a rare appearance by Oprah Winfrey, finished in distant third with 2.9 million.
The long-running ratings war between the three morning shows reached a fever pitch on Thursday, when "GMA" announced that Katie Couric would be guest-hosting for a week. "Today" has long dominated mornings, coming in first every week for the past sixteen years. In recent months, however, "GMA" has come within striking distance of the perennial winner, having narrowed the gap to the smallest it has been in five years.
Couric kicked off the show's latest attempt to topple its archrival on Monday. The former "Today" anchor has made several mentions of her NBC News colleagues, posing with their wax figures in Times Square, and jokingly addressing George Stephanopoulos as Matt.
"Today" retaliated by teasing the return of a "legend" (who turned out to be Meredith Vieira). It also announced that Sarah Palin would guest host on Tuesday, setting the former GOP vice-presidential candidate up for a rematch with Couric.