On Monday the Today show had one of its rare national wins over Sunrise.
While finishing off Tuesday’s show, on location in Melbourne, Karl Stefanovic got word their 390,000 defeated Seven’s 332,000 but wasn’t about to begin the cheering. After all, it is Olympics season and a day’s triumph is not yet a weekly win.
“It’s been a long hard struggle, but we’re not getting over the moon about stuff like that,” he told TV Tonight.
“We’ve been steadily increasing our audience, it’s steady as she goes and we’ve been concentrating on getting our product better and there are more and more people coming back which is really satisfying.
“Our approach has always been to just try and get one at a time. Melbourne came back and I think that was due to content and the fact that we were looking after Melbourne.
“Sydney’s come back because we’ve poured a lot of energy into reports coming out of Sydney. And we’ve just put on a reporter in Brissy. It’s just one step at a time.”
The battle for breakfast has never been as close as it is in 2010. Today has been winning for so long in Melbourne that Sunrise has added local producers, reporters and personalities to its mix. This year Today has been taking Sydney as well. Stefanovic has gained an appreciation of what it means to carve out such successes.
“It’s not an easy thing to do and full credit initially for the (previous) Today show for winning for so long and then for Sunrise for having the whole nation for as long as they have had it. It’s difficult to look after every market. But now I think we’re competitive in every market, and it’s really good for breakfast television as a whole, I think.”
Stefanovic has been with Today for five years, following in the footsteps of Steve Liebmann. The first few years he co-hosted with a revolving door of female co-hosts before Nine sttled on Lisa Wilkinson. Since then the chemistry has been resonating with viewers.
“It’s been five years and the first two felt like twenty,” he acknowledges. “It was very hard. But it’s such a great vibe on the show now, we’ve got great producers and everyone’s just getting on really well and looking forward to coming to work.”
Last year Stefanovic also presented on Random Acts of Kindness and 60 Minutes. He says this year he will continue with the latter, which may preclude his involvement in the former, despite boss David Gyngell wanting him to return.
“He said to me the other day, ‘Mate we really want you to try and be involved in this.’ But my problem this year is I’m doing 60 Minutes as well,” he said.
“I’m probably going to be time poor. So I don’t want to go into something that I’m going to be doing half-arsed. If I’m going to do it I want to be able to do a great job of it.”
The Nine presenter harbors ambitions to stick with 60 Minutes, although not necessarily at the expense of Today.
“I think 60 Minutes is something I’ve always wanted to do all my life. To have the access to those stories and do it in combination with the Today show is the best possible combination.”
So if his Today stint were to end, would he like to increase his association with 60 Minutes?
“Down the track, yeah,” he admits. “I think I’ve always had that ambition to be in 60 Minutes. There’s no doubt about that.”
Tactfully he adds, “If the combination works, which has never been tried before, then why wouldn’t I? I love live TV. So if I’ve got the combination of live and being able to go away and do more stories for 60 Minutes, then that’s a great combination. But it hasn’t been tried before.”
Today airs 6am weekdays and 7am weekends on Nine.