• News boss Darren Wick: “We took a bold decision…that has not worked”
After ditching longtime Today show breakfast host Karl Stefanovic in 2018, and losing Lisa Wilkinson to Network 10 in 2017, Nine has revealed its fourth breakfast line-up two years. Stefanovic will return to breakfast alongside Nine’s Allison Langdon.
Nine’s breakfast show Today has been in a state of flux since Lisa Wilkinson walked out the door back in August 2017. Just over two-and-a-half years later the network has confirmed its fourth breakfast pairing to try and steal the breakfast crown back from Seven’s Sunrise.
Changing Today: Nine breakfast teams
Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson 2007-2017
Karl Stefanovic and Georgie Gardner 2018
Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight 2019
Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon 2020
Nine Entertainment Co has used its Saturday newspapers to promote its new hosts. A reader pointed out on social media that while new Today show hosts get a prime spot on page 1 of The Sydney Morning Herald, detailed coverage of the bushfire crisis was pushed back to page 7.
Although the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald carries the world “Exclusive” for its page one “Nine gambles on ‘wiser’ Stefanovic for breakfast” headline (plus a full page inside), it was Nick Tabakoff midweek in The Australian who alerted readers first that Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks had signed off on the proposal to return Stefanovic to breakfast alongside Langdon.
Sister news brand The Age was slightly less enthusiastic about the Nine programming update, dropping the word exclusive and giving the story half of page 7 (even though the front cover sent readers to page 6).
Stefanovic and Langdon will take over Today in January 2020, possibly at the start of the Australian Open, the day that Gardner and Knight started hosting together in 2019.
Nine this morning reported while Gardner was disappointed with the decision, she was proud to have broken new ground with her co-host.
“I was consulted two weeks ago about the future direction of the Today show, and naturally I’m disappointed with the outcome,” said Gardner.
“However I’m very proud to have been part of an innovative and progressive programming decision – the first female hosting duo in Australian breakfast television.
“My plan now is to return to my first love, news, and to catch up on some sleep! I am grateful for the support and friendship offered by my Today show colleagues on-air and behind the scenes and I am humbled by the unwavering loyalty and kindness of viewers.”
Why Today had to change
Week 44 breakfast TV ratings (Week ending November 2 M-F)
Metro + Sydney and Melbourne
Sunrise 283,000 (Syd 82,000 Mel 64,000)
Today 174,000 (Syd 45,000 Mel 46,000)
Darren Wick, director of news at Nine, said the network broke new ground in appointing two female hosts which regrettably has not been reflected in ratings.
“Georgie is a person of great integrity who has given everything for the past two years in hosting one of the most demanding and high profile shows on television. She’s loved and admired by her colleagues and she cares passionately about the stories she tells,” said Wick.
“We took a bold decision to try something new with two women hosting the Today show this year and regrettably that has not worked for the audience.”
Nine reported Knight will stay on with the network and will be in the co-host chair on Monday morning while Gardner, who has been a co-host since January 2018, will no longer work the 5.30am to 9am timeslot.
The remaining Today show team members, including newsreader Tom Steinfort and entertainment reporters Richard Wilkins and Brooke Boney, will remain with Nine with Wick saying the full line up of Today in 2020 “will be announced in due course”.
Top photo: Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon photographed by Louise Kennerley for The Sydney Morning Herald