How Global’s The Morning Show rose to the top of the ratings

Since expanding the national program in 2019, Corus has grown its audience by taking "the temperature of the day" among viewers.
the morning show

In a time when brands and media properties are striving to be more “lifestyle-oriented,” Global’s The Morning Show has become the highest-rated late-morning TV show in Canada by balancing that with a healthy dose of news and information viewers want to keep up to speed on.

Not to be confused with the Apple TV+ scripted series that shares its name, The Morning Show launched in 2011 and served the Toronto market exclusively until Corus tacked a 30-minute national version of the show to the end of the broadcast in 2013. In 2019, the network extended the national version to a full hour running from 9 to 10 a.m. in response to ratings growth that had already begun. Since then, TMS has undergone a few changes and is now seeing its second year of viewership growth.

When Global brought the show national, the goal for a corresponding revamp was for it to be more lifestyle-oriented, with the “newsier” side handled by the lead-in morning shows in local markets. But today, TMS plays to its strengths as part of the Global News network, says consulting executive producer Jordan Schwartz.

That means it doesn’t shy away from hard news and heavy issues. A recent episode opened with co-hosts Jeff McArthur and Carolyn MacKenzie discussing the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine with Global News reporter Mike Armstrong, who was live on the ground in Poland. The same show features conversations about masking etiquette, a segment on the top consumer products of 2022, and an interview with Real Housewives star Kandi Burruss.

It’s the combination of hard news and lighter lifestyle content that distinguishes TMS from more established competitors The Marilyn Dennis Show, Cityline and Breakfast Television, he says. The Morning Show reaches 1.2 million viewers each week, and had an AMA of 152,300 in fall 2021, up from 146,900 AMA in fall 2020, according to Numeris data.

The show’s viewership was rising pre-pandemic when the show began to refocus itself to”really take the temperature of the day,” says Schwartz, which includes covering everything from the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools, the wildfires and flooding in B.C., and the freedom convoy protests in Ottawa. “And those are tough topics to do in daytime, but they’re really important topics.”

The show targets audiences ages 25 to 54, but with people spending more time at home during hours that used to be spent in an office, TMS has found new viewers as well.

“But we seem to develop this loyal following that stuck with us and has stayed even as the pandemic has sort of waned in and out as far as the strains of it,” says Schwartz. “We tried to arm people with the type of information that will help them get through it and cope with things. Not initially a straight news story but some takeaways from it.”

The onset of the pandemic was a key moment for the TMS – a time when a lot of daytime shows went dark while they figured out how to adjust to distancing and safety issues.

“We decided at that moment it was more important to figure out a way to stay on the air and be there for viewers, and that really did change the trajectory of the show. Because we stayed on the air, it was messy,” Schwartz explains recalling early pandemic days. “We stayed on throughout it, and I think that really put us on the map for viewers to actually know who we were and that we were there for them.”

TMS also makes a conscious effort to cover the entire country. “A lot of shows concentrate on Toronto and the GTA and I think a lot of parts of the country feel left out with national shows. And so we really make it a habit to look outside this area. We like to make sure we are talking to people in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and out east. Because there are so many great stories that don’t necessarily get told, and going virtual really opened that for us too, because it really allows you to talk to anybody.”

Schwartz, who previously produced shows for all TMS‘ competitors, says the inclusion of stories from across the country acknowledges viewers and makes them feel more connected.

TMS has also refocused its lifestyle content in a way that is more friendly to advertisers. When talking to chefs or home design experts, for example, one of the key questions addressed is how and where viewers can get those products.

“We’ve seen our sponsorships or integrations grow over the past year and again this year,” he says. Advertisers include Canadian Tire, Lowes, VISA, Sobey’s, Joe Fresh, Desjardins, Roc Skin Care, Sleep Country, Behr Paint and Air Miles. “We’re attracting premium brands to the show and it’s a natural fit,” he says.