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ABC's GMA dethrones NBC's Today, ending its morning winning streak of more than 16 years; NBC's Nightly News also increasingly challenged

The hosts of GMA get slap-happy on recent edition. ABC photo

NBC's two remaining strongholds, Today and the network's Nightly News with Brian Williams, are under increasing assault from ABC.

One wall fell during the week of April 9-13, when ABC's Good Morning America barely ended Today's more than 16-year- winning streak in total viewers.

"Fast national" Nielsen ratings gave GMA a minuscule 13,000 viewers edge over Today, which hadn't lost a week in the morning ratings since Dec. 4, 1995. GMA has been steadily gaining, as the network crows in weekly publicity releases. But this is the first time it's actually closed the deal, although Today still led its principal rival among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. ABC didn't mention that fact in trumpeting its victory.

Today mainstay Matt Lauer was on vacation during this particular week while Robin Roberts returned to her post after a week-long holiday in which former Today co-host Katie Couric took the GMA co-host reins.

Interestingly, Couric's presence wasn't enough to turn the trick for GMA, which trailed Today by 187,000 total viewers for the week of April 2-6. But Today pulled its own stunts by bringing Meredith Vieira back for a day and using Sarah Palin as a guest host on the April 3rd edition.

The shortfall during Couric's heavily promoted week could be something of an ill omen for her upcoming Katie talk show, which will launch around the country in early September (and on WFAA8 in D-FW).

On the dinner hour newscast front, ABC bragged about making steady gains in total viewers while "slashing" the year-to-year 25-to-54 demographic gap.

Still, the big winner in the latest ratings week (April 9-13) may be the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. It continues to trail by a significant gap in total viewers but is making a game of it with 25-to-54-year-olds while remaining the only newscast to register year-to-year gains in both ratings measurements.

From April 9-13, Nightly News led in total viewers with 8.160 million, followed by Diane Sawyer's World News (7.203 million) and the CBS Evening News (5.943 million).

In the 25-to-54 age range, Nightly News had 2.203 million, with World News (1.918 million) and Evening News 1.817 million) trailing.

Pelly joined CBS News in 1989 after seven years with Dallas-based WFAA8. Before that, he also worked briefly at Fort Worth-based NBC5.