With Move To GMA, Is Michael Strahan Leaving Money On The Table?
He might be. Although morning TV is lucrative, being a syndicated TV star can pay even more. But by being a team player right now, the former football star could reap greater dividends down the road from Disney/ABC
Michael Strahan (far left) with Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer on Good Morning America
UPDATE APRIL 20, 2016 - The story of Michael Strahan's move to Good Morning America took a nasty turn the day after ABC's big announcement, as Kelly Ripa suddenly took a day off from work at Live With Kelly & Michael, amid reports she feels dissed by her soon to exit co-star.
"The longtime host of Live! was hurt she had to hear at the same time as the rest of the world," reports People.com. "She is feeling so hurt and betrayed on so many levels," says a source close to Ripa, 45, who adds the host feels specifically hurt "by Michael."
Will this put a chink in the shining knight armor that Strahan presents to the world?
The New York Post reported: "Ripa reportedly was blindsided by Strahan’s departure, with a network source telling Page Six that “The plan was for there to be more time between telling Kelly and the announcement. But the story leaked, the timeline got crunched.”
Ripa feels she helped get him the life changing role as her co-host, adds People.com: "She was [Strahan's] champion," says the source. "She pushed for him to get the gig in the first place."
Ripa's absence from the show was not planned, despite official pronouncements from ABC, added People.com, "Strahan had to discuss his departure on air for the first time with a last minute replacement, Ana Gasteyer" - a sweet lady who didn't seem to know him too well.
What also emerged is that this program personnel decision was made at the highest levels of the network's parent, with Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger personally involved. The drop in ratings that GMA has experienced while the newsy show on CBS gains ground and NBC regroups at Today must have them feeling pressure to act.
Ripa is said to read this unwanted surprise as a message the network that turned her from a soap opera star into a superstar now doesn't care about her show as much as the fate of GMA. If that's the case this could only be the first shoe to fall, according to TMZ.com: "We're told there's serious talk about giving 'Live' the boot at 9 AM and adding a third hour to 'GMA.' It's unclear if Disney is eyeing a time slot later in the morning for Kelly's show. It's pretty incredible, since 'Live' has been super successful on Kelly's watch.Adding a 3rd hour to 'GMA' is the logical next move, since Strahan has established himself in the 9 AM time slot."
There is no public revelation of Strahan's new salary and contract terms but if behind the scene negotiations have been going on for weeks (behind the backs of Live's Kelly and Gelman), then it is likely Strahan commanded a good deal of compenstation and perks.
There were unconfirmed reports he made $10 million a year at Live and related activities; so it must have taken a lot of Disney dollars to get the former football star to suddenly change teams in a way that leaves his greatest cheerleaders at the old shop feeling deflated. If Lara Spencer really makes $3 million, the gap between the male and female co-host's pay could be significant, and lead to other re-negotiations.
In the story that follows written at the time of the surprise announcement, the point is Strahan might have made even more money in future years if he stayed with TV syndication. It examines the many reasons he is such a wanted man. It also refers to Strahan as easy to get along with, which now seems to have been yesterday's news.
Kelly's pals are saying when she got Strahan the job she expected the kind of easy, friendly working relationshp she enjoyed so much with Regis. Instead she felt she got involved with someone who is surrounded by people who make it difficult to reach him directly. Some are saying success has gone to his head.
If success has gone to Strahan's head, he still maintains his aw shucks down to earth personna on screen, and all the reasons they wanted him to boost GMA remain valid. So now we will see if he is a George or a Josh.
Read the story to understand what that means. And please subscribe.
A Wanted Man
(April 19, 2016)
Michael Strahan proved he was a team player during 15 years as an all-star defensive end for the New York Giants – and now he may proving it again by taking one the for his new team at Disney/ABC.
Strahan announced April 19 that he will leave his secure high-profile chair next to Kelly Ripa on their hit syndicated TV show, Live With Kelly and Michael, to appear week days on ABC’s marquee morning program Good Morning America, where he’s currently a (two-day-a-week) part timer.
It is easy to understand why the Disney owned alphabet network would want the likable Strahan on GMA. The network is in a dogfight to retain its hard won ratings lead over NBC’s Today Show and the revived CBS This Morning, and Strahan is expected to give the show a boost.
In the announcement, ABC News president, James Goldston said Strahan has, “proven to be a tireless and versatile broadcaster with an incredible ability to connect with people, from veterans to American pop culture icons and newsmakers."
What makes Strahan especially valuable is that he is truly a nice guy, easy to work, boyishly charming to everyone, and he comes off on live TV as authentic as he was during his Hall of Fame football career.
The fact he is black at a time Disney and ABC are in a major diversity push is the frosting on the cake for the home of Mickey Mouse.
It is tougher to understand why Strahan is going along with this trade.
"GMA" co-host George Stephanopoulos tweeted the most likely answer Tuesday calling Strahan the "ultimate team player."
It’s not that the higher profile GMA exposure is likely to hurt him. It may even give him a big career boost. And he will still enjoy a multi-million dollar contact (probably making more than the $3 million a year fellow host Lara Spencer reportedly receives).
But that may turn out to be chump change next to what he could make in TV syndication.
For the uninitiated, GMA is a network show, which means it runs in pattern on ABC owned and affiliated stations. The show’s carriage is incorporated into a larger affiliation agreement with stations that carry the network’s entire lineup.
TV syndication is the sale of a single show, market by market (or to a TV station group which carries it in select cities).
Syndication is a sizable business but still is dwarfed by broadcast TV and by cable TV.
It may be smaller in total dollars but ironically it’s a way individual star performers can make a lot more money. And when a syndie show works, it can stay on the air for many years. Examples are Wheel of Fortune, Dr. Phil and Ellen. Once past the first few years, these shows become a virtual money machine.
As the star of a network morning show Strahan can aspire to make as much as his GMA teammates like Robin Roberts, who reportedly pulls in about $20 million a year, or co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, who earns an estimated $15 million a year.
Or he might reach the heights of Matt Lauer who is said to make over $20 million a year from NBC’s Today Show.
He might even make more than Charlie Rose on CBS’s revived morning show, who pulls in an estimated $8 million a year.
Sounds like a lot until you check out what top syndicated stars earn, often by using their leverage to become a show’s executive producer as well, and in some cases (i.e. Judge Judy) to own a piece of the programs they front.
Oprah Winfrey set the standard with her huge payday before walking away from her syndicated talk show, but others have followed in her footsteps. According to media reports, Dr. Phil McGraw pulls in up to $80 million a year; Judge Judy Sheindlin tops $47 million a year; and Ellen DeGeneres makes $75 million annually.
Even Rachel Ray, by cooking up activities that benefit from her TV exposure, earns over $30 million a year, according to media accounts.
Strahan laughs it up on Live With Kelly and Michael co-host Kelly Ripa
At Live With Kelly and Michael, produced by Disney’s syndication distribution division, Strahan is reportedly already earning about $10 million a year. He is in the final year of his current contract so with that show’s ratings up nicely since he arrived in 2012 (sorry Regis), Strahan was clearly in line for a raise.
Would he have scored equal pay as well as equal billing with Kelly Ripa, who reportedly makes $20 million a year? We will never know.
Of course at only 44-years-of age, Strahan could have even more careers ahead than football and morning TV. He might stay with GMA for several years, build his image even more, and then opt for his own rich syndication deal.
Strahan is also keeping one side job. He will continue as pro football analyst for Fox Sports on Sunday broadcasts during football season.
The fact is Live is a big hit right now – it has become the highest rated daytime syndie talker since he arrived - and that gives Strahan huge leverage.
Is there a danger for Strahan? Well, on Live he is one of only two stars. At GMA he is part of an all-star team of personalities.
Will he be like Josh Elliott who quit ABC seeking a bigger playing field and instead got lost in the crowd. Not likely but not impossible.
Elliott was part of GMA when it ended the Today Show’s 16 years at the top of the ratings in 2012 - but left in March 2014 to join NBC Sports.
Once at NBC Sports, he had even more competition for airtime and was prevented by his ABC contract from also appearing on Today for six months. He left NBC Sports last December looking grumpy and recently took a much less visible job on the CBS News digital channel.
Live With Kelly and Michael is a huge profit maker for Disney. So you know GMA must be a huge priority for them to make this shift.
Perhaps being a good team player will mean in a few years Strahan may have other opportunities.
He certainly has a fan in Ben Sherwood, the President of Disney-ABC Television Group, who was formerly head of ABC News when GMA was making its climb to the top.
Picking Strahan for Live involved a ten-month search but Disney/ABC got it right. Yet now they are breaking that winning team up. Kelly will start auditioning new co-hosts in September, so you know this move is an all-in hand for Disney/ABC.
Strahan has appeared in movies such as Magic Mike XXL and various TV shows and has shown he is ambitious. He recently also launched his own men’s clothing line, and is helping design sports shoes, among various outside businesses and philanthropies. In 2015, he published a book, Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide To Transforming Your Life.
Now he is transforming his own life.
Strahan in Indianapolis for induction in the pro football hall of fame in 2014 with his bust
So is Strahan leaving money on the table by taking the GMA job and giving up his daily chat with Kelly? Probably, in the short term.
But with a personal fortune already estimated at over $45 million, Strahan can afford to make the moves that are in his long-term best interest.
Going to GMA may or may not be the right move for him. It could catapult him onto a larger stage, or not. But right now it is what is best for ABC and Disney as they fight for every tenth of a ratings point.
For Strahan, having Disney and ABC as teammates could lead to other gigs, in both TV and movies. Being the right guy in the right era and having Disney/ABC loyal to him could pay off even more spectacularly in the future.