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After Sochi, ‘Today’ keeps ratings bounce

– NBC’s “Today” show didn’t leave its mojo in Sochi and is feeling newly energized in the program’s perpetual battle with ABC’s dominant “Good Morning America.”

After winning in the ratings for two weeks during the Winter Olympics – NBC’s first weekly wins since the London games in summer 2012 – the “Today” show has kept some of its momentum now that Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and the team are back in the New York studio.

“GMA” was back on top last week, recording 5.79 million viewers to 5.46 million at “Today,” the Nielsen company said. The margin of some 330,000 viewers, however, compared favorably to the average 1.1 million viewer gap ABC had built up this TV season heading into the Olympics.

“No one is high-fiving at this point,” said Don Nash, “Today” executive producer, “but I do feel we are headed in the right direction and I do feel a sense of energy and momentum on the show right now.”

Meanwhile, backstage at “Good Morning America,” staff members held their own medal ceremony Thursday. The show is thrilled with its performance during the Olympics, said Tom Cibrowski, “GMA” senior executive producer.

“We fully expected to take something of a beating and we didn’t,” he said Friday.

The most encouraging sign for ABC is that “Good Morning America” didn’t lose viewers during the Olympics and its aftermath. During the Olympics, “Good Morning America” averaged 5.81 million viewers, compared with 5.77 million for the season prior to Sochi, Nielsen said.

NBC tightened the race by bringing in new viewers. The show averaged a shade below 6 million viewers each day during the Olympics and drew 4.61 million on an average day prior to the games. The challenge for NBC will be keeping those new viewers, and it’s a stretch to think they’ll all stay.

“Whether the new viewers came from ‘GMA’ or anyone else, it doesn’t matter to me,” Nash said. “I just want to have as many people watching the broadcast as possible.”

Key for ABC is keeping its team together – probably the true secret to its success the past few years.

“Good Morning America” recently lost forecaster Sam Champion to The Weather Channel.

Most important, ABC has locked in Roberts with a new contract. It is negotiating to keep Josh Elliott, who’s on the team with Lara Spencer and new weathercaster Ginger Zee.