NEW YORK (Reuters) - ABC's "Good Morning America" outperformed NBC's the "Today" show for the first time in 16 years, drawing 31,000 more viewers last week than its rival in the lucrative television morning show market.
"Good Morning America," co-hosted by George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, beat out "Today," drawing almost 5.17 million viewers and was ranked No. 1 in the morning slot for the week of April 9, according to Nielsen ratings data on Thursday.
"Today" co-host Matt Lauer was away on vacation during that week.
Morning TV shows are crucial to the networks for their popularity with advertisers and profitability compared to more expensive shows such as dramas and comedies.
The rivalry between the morning shows has been heating up in recent weeks. Katie Couric guest hosted "Good Morning America" two weeks ago, and NBC responded by booking Sarah Palin to drop in to co-host "Today."
Couric famously embarrassed Palin during the 2008 presidential race when the then Republican vice presidential candidate struggled to name which newspapers she regularly read.
"We congratulate our friends at 'Today' for the greatest winning streak in broadcasting history and for their excellence and leadership during this historic run. It's a special day for ABC News," Ben Sherwood, ABC News President, said in a statement.
Stephanopoulos tweeted, "What a milestone!"
"Today" noted in a statement it still beat "Good Morning America" among 25-45 year-olds coveted by many advertisers.
(Reporting By Christine Kearney, Editing by Jill Serjeant)