Today show set for 'complete format change' according to TV insider

Holly Hales
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon have been the subject of speculation surrounding a possible pair to front the Today show. Photo: Instagram/AllisonLangdon

As the Today show’s 2020 season draws near, rumours about its future continue to swirl—following a year marred by low ratings and criticism aimed at the program’s stars.

From talk Karl Stefanovic will have to ‘sacrifice’ pay in order to regain his old gig, to chatter he’ll be joined by Allison Langdon on screen, many are expecting a shift in direction to bring fans back to the embattled breakfast show.

Talk of a new Today

And now, a TV insider has suggested Today’s only road to success is through a ‘complete format change’ which will revolutionise the early morning television genre.

The take comes from ex-Studio 10 Executive Producer Robert McKnight who made the suggestion on his site on TV Blackbox and proposed the program should abandon its traditional structure and instead be split in two.

“Producers have a chance to go in a different direction and engage viewers who have given up on the format,” Mr Knight wrote.

“This new double header will lead a new charge for the show, but it won’t be enough unless the format evolves.”

At the centre of the plan is potential new stars, Allison and Karl, who would lead opinion-charged television from 6:30am instead of the present start time of 5am.

Before this, Mr Knight suggested the inclusion of a pre-show of sorts which would centre on straight shooting news, sport and entertainment segments in addition to crosses to overseas reporters.

Among his list of potential early-morning presenters are ABC News Breakfast’s Georgie Tunny, SBS World News’ Ricardo Gonçalves and Nine’s Steve Jacobs.

Nine’s stars take to the screen

When seasoned pros Karl and Ali take their place on screen at 6:30—shortly before ratings start to count—the show will leave its current formula behind and focus on the pair and their panel’s take on news of the day.

“If you look at all the evidence in the US, viewers are drawn to opinion television. They want more than just the facts; they want to know how to feel about those facts,” Mr Knight explained.

“They might not always agree with what they hear, but presenters offering their opinions on the topics of the day helps them to inform their own views.

“While Australian shows dabble in opinions on breakfast television, the concept has not been fully embraced.”

But despite his seemingly rock-solid plan, Channel Nine has yet to announce any firm direction for the Today show after this year wraps up.

Last week, when rumours about Karl and Ali taking the program’s reigns began to swirl they were not denied and instead the network issued Yahoo Lifestyle with a ‘no comment’ response.

But despite this, it wasn’t the first time the pair were pointed to as the only ones capable of bringing the breakfast show out of its ratings slump.

The Today show started this year off with a new-look panel. Photo: Channel Nine

The reports were first alluded to in The Sunday Telegraph last monthwho used the 60 Minutes reporter’s popularity with audiences, and the fact she hosted the network’s 2020 Upfronts, as reasons for their speculation.

Additionally, the mother-of-two was out of the running for a role in the show’s initial line-up switch earlier this year as she was heavily pregnant with daughter Scout at the time.

“Langdon has long been favoured as a future Today show host and with Nine expected to replace either Knight or her co-host Georgie Gardner — or both — at year’s end, rumours have surfaced that Langdon could once again be in executives’ sights,” the publication concluded.

Today’s radical casting switch-up earlier this year saw Tom Steinfort take over from Sylvia Jeffreys as newsreader, while Deb Knight stepped into Karl’s hosting shoes and Brooke Boney joined as entertainment reporter.

But despite the fresh line up’s initial promise, each has failed to resonate with audiences reaching its year-long plateau on September 23 when the program attracted just 169,000 metro viewers.

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