This week, I am subjecting myself to a total immersion to both major breakfast television programs – Sunrise (Ch7) and the Today Show (Ch9) – by way of a scientific* comparison of the two shows. I’ll be looking at the individual presenting styles of the shows, the content they offer, how it’s packaged, how welcoming the show is to new viewers (after all, they are both on the hunt for a larger share each morning), and so forth. By the end of the week, I’ll have seen 32.5 hours of breakfast television. The things you do when you’re unemployed.

I’ll offer a wrap up of each day for each show, to be published the following day as a sort of diary. The daily entries will be my notes and impressions throughout the show, in order, times noted where applicable/used for emphasis. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on my thoughts – am I being unfair? Did I miss something? Why do you like a specific show, etc, etc. Add you thoughts, so that my final analysis (published Sunday 20/02) is truly a viewer representative view.

The Today Show (Ch9) – Monday 14/02/11

Welcome to Today...

Hosts: Georgie Gardner, Lisa Wilkinson (no Karl today)
News: Alicia Gorey
Sport: Ben Fordham
Weather: Emma Freedman
Entertainment reporting: Richard Wilkins/Richard Reid

  • Karl mentioned as MIA (that’s it?), and no intro of Georgie – at all.
  • No supers introducing ANY of the cast – it’s just assumed you know them.
  • First 30 min (5:30-6am) basically a recap of the 5-5:30am news bulletin.
  • Richard Wilkins & Richard Reid drop the first “entertainment” new spot at 5:55am. It is too early in the morning for Richard Reid to be so shouty and American and shouty and annoying and shouty.
  • Ben Fordham struggling carrying the entire burden of testosterone at the desk. The oestrogen is eating him alive.
  • COAG Health agreeement the lead story on every news bulletin (understandably).
  • Poor Emma Freedman sent up the Sydney Harbour Bridge for an RSVP speed dating “event”. Shudder.
  • The entertainment segment from 6:30-7am is basically replayed from 7:30-8am.
  • I enjoyed the password discussion with Charlie Brown – so little tech is explained well to the public, and he nailed this.
  • Ben’s sport crosses feel like a cover – like he wants to be/should be doing more.
  • The competition “I wake up with Today” calls to winners both failed – one gave voicemail, the other answered “G’day”. In the latter call there was no discussion with the guy, simply talking over him by Lisa.
  • Good plug to let you know you can watch Today on your Optus 3G mobile – but only at 8:22am, when most people who would will have left for work at least an hour ago. Placement is wrong.
  • I know Di Butler as a TV Critic, not as a Mag Hag. That whole segment didn’t sit right (and she’s far too ascerbic for breakfast TV – give the woman a 2nd chair on a tonight show).
  • Lots of good spread talking about Valentine’s Day and reading messages (real or made up) from the papers & sent in. The story of the Horsby dancing couple was nice.
  • Andrew Bolt does not deserve to breathe the same oxygen as me, let alone air time.
  • The cross to the Normanby Hotel to talk about the Royal Bucks/Hens nights was massively false – the sizzle all morning was suggesting the Normanby received a letter to host the events, when in fact it was them sending a letter to offer to host them. Poor form.
  • The set was nice – there’s lots of teeth – the side shots revealed a little too much going on below the desk (what was being worn, etc).
  • The 7am news NOT being read by Alicia but instead as an interactive interview/chat style with Lisa and Georgie caught me off guard. Wasn’t expecting it, even though it worked very well. It was like Alicia was caught in the toilets – no mention of her.
  • Having Alicia then cover the paper headlines at 7:15am helped resolved her whereabouts.
  • Almost entire 7-7:30am all news in the Lisa/Georgie conversational format.
  • It must have been a very full show, as the farewell with all on the couch lasted all of 30 seconds before they threw to Kerri-Anne.

Sunrise (Ch7) – Monday 14/02/11

This is Sunrise...

Hosts: Melissa Doyle, David Koch
News: Natalie Barr
Sport: Simon Reeves (Mark Baretta travelling back from V8 Supercars commitments in the Middle East)
Weather: Grant Denyer
Entertainment reporting: Nelson Aspen

  • Voice over introduces “Kochie & Mel” – but no super. The whole vibe is decidedly less formal by comparison.
  • COAG Health agreement main story.
  • Kochie can’t get away from the ‘money man’ tag.
  • As expected, Valentine’s Day colour lives here too.
  • Much more made of the “Drink-Drive-Go to Jail” story here.
  • Nat’s camping experince re-cap (pre 6:30am news) allowing for a friendly chat between the cast – allowing the viewers into a little more of the personal lives of the hosts.
  • Denyer playing it for gags in Martin Place (outside the studios), and doing surprisingly well.
  • There are definite personas – Mel’s a sexy mum, Kochie’s the dorky dad, Nat is Mel’s bff’s, Simon is like that neighbour they like and invite over to BBQ’s, Grant’s the crazy nephew.
  • Cut to “Reaso” (Chris Reason) by Kochie to talk Egypt. They’re mates.
  • Both shows have Valentine’s Day fluff in spades.
  • Nelson quietly reserved, delivering a chatty entertainment cross on the hour. Shouting-free zone. Quite dapper this morning, actually.
  • Foreign Affairs editor Dr Keith Suter, resplendent in his white suit (requested by fans) talked Assange with aplomb and authority. A live cross from Sydney into the Sunrise studio. In Sydney. Across the studio.
  • No mention of Shane Warne & the allegations he bedded an Australian porn star when he was in the UK (“Pornie”) on Today – but it gets 3 minutes Mel with Peter Ford.
  • The show is very much anchored by Mel & Kochie. They chat entertainment as easily as COAG Health agreement as Assange as the BAFTAs.
  • Jim & Rebecca Wilson in to talk sport with Simon. Another casual chat.
  • Sunrise’s giveaway vehicle – the Cash Cow – doesn’t rely on calls out live, just phone/text in and we’ll tell you tomorrow if you won.
  • No news segment goes longer than 4 minutes entirely – 6 minutes including sport.
  • The delay to speak with the reporter on the red carpet in the US for the Grammys was painful, but you can’t beat physics.
  • Neil Mitchell & Michael Smith offering talkback opinion. It’s good conversation, but if we wanted their opinion we’d be listening instead of watching Sunrise.
  • A sex scientist. Really? More Warnie situation dissection. How tabloid we have become. Then straight into “why Valentine’s Day might be the best break up day”.
  • The last weather cross to Martin Place had way more people out and about – and it looked like there was a lot happening in the background. Looking at you, Cash Cow.
  • At least two crosses to the BAFTAs & Grammy reporters during the morning.
  • The star couple getting back together – Ken & Barbie. My lord.
  • The poor Mattel lady seems surprised at the line of questioning from Kochie & Mel.
  • The show finishes out in Martin Place to allow The Morning Show to setup in the studio. A little bit longer chat, as they’d obviously found a little more time through the show.


* = Not at all scientific.