The "Today" show is staging a comeback.
NBC's morning telecast has been mired in second place behind ABC's "Good Morning America" for years. But it's been quietly racking up victories recently -- enough to put ABC on edge.
In the key demographic for news advertisers, viewers ages 25 to 54, "Today" has beaten "GMA" for the past two weeks. This is significant because "Today" hasn't been No. 1 for two weeks in a row since the beginning of 2013.
"Today" slid into a semi-permanent No. 2 after the botched removal of Ann Curry from the cast in 2012. With a five-person ensemble and a focus on entertaining stories, "GMA" was primed to capitalize on the "Today" show's missteps.
But these ratings trends are usually cyclical, and it seems like "Today" is regaining some momentum. Meanwhile, "GMA" is wobbling a bit.
James Goldston and Tom Cibrowski, the producers who led "GMA" to victory and were subsequently promoted within ABC News, are now back in the morning show's control room on a regular basis, which reflects the network's heightened concern about the ratings race.
Goldston is now the president of ABC News and Cibrowski is a senior vice president. "GMA" is far and away the most profitable show for ABC News.
"GMA" is still No. 1 overall, both for the season to date and for the hotly contested "sweeps" month of May. But the May ratings, which came out on Friday, show how the race has tightened.
In May 2014, "GMA" had a lead of about 136,000 viewers ages 25 to 54. In May 2015, its lead was cut down to 56,000.
NBC, meanwhile, is in celebration mode. Today's two weekly wins in May come after winning a week in April, so NBC News President Deborah Turness trumpeted last week's win as the "third time in 5 weeks!!!!" in a tweet on Friday morning.
"Huge congratulations to our incredible team," she wrote.
Both morning shows have lost viewers year-over-year. "GMA" averaged 2.15 million in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic last May, and 1.85 million this May. "Today" averaged 2.01 million last May and 1.79 million this May.
Among total viewers, there was also a viewership slide, more for "GMA" than "Today."
"CBS This Morning" is the only one of the three network morning shows to post gains year-over-year. This time last year, it had about 967,000 viewers ages 25 to 54; now it has 1.04 million. The show has gained about half a million total viewers year-over-year.
CBS says the morning show is posting the network's best viewership totals in the time slot in 21 years.