Lisa Wilkinson’s sudden exit from the Today show no doubt shocked Network bosses on Monday, but new ratings figures suggest it may have paid off for Channel Nine.
According to Mediaweek on Wednesday, the latest figures for Today indicate 301,000 metro viewers tuned into Tuesday’s show, the day after Lisa’s departure.
Meanwhile, rival Network Channel Seven’s Sunrise pulled in just 262,000 viewers.
Today show ratings win: The latest OzTam figures for Today indicate 301,000 viewers tuned into the Today show on Tuesday, the day after Lisa’s departure
Tuesday’s figures were up from Monday, with Today attracting 274,000 viewers – less than Sunrise which pulled in 289,000.
It comes after Lisa announced she was quitting the Today show on Monday after demanding the Nine Network pay her the same salary as co-host Karl Stefanovic.
But on Wednesday, Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks hit back, telling The Daily Telegraph that the network walked away from Lisa because she has ‘commercial contracts’ with rival companies that restricted their complete access to her.
Marks also revealed he went ‘to incredible amount of trouble to build’ a $1.8 million package for the TV star, but she demanded $2.3 million, $300,000 more than co-host Karl Stefanovic.
Restrictive: On Wednesday, Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks told The Daily Telegraph the company ‘walked away’ from Lisa Wilkinson as her other commercial agreements restrict their ability to engage with her in the digital and social spaces
Hinting at why the network wouldn’t offer her the same amount of money as co-host Karl, he added: ‘I hate the fact we have to compare her with Karl but with him we have those rights (to complete access). With Lisa, we do not.’
Lisa is the editor-at-large of Huffington Post Australia – a competitor of Nine’s digital news sites – and The Telegraph claims that deal had ’caused increasing friction’.
He told The Daily Telegraph that Lisa’s Huffington Post deal ‘restricts [Nine’s] ability to engage with her digitally’.
Another unnamed Channel Nine Executive told the publication point blank: ‘Karl is worth more money. That’s just a fact.’
As well as hosting the Today show, Karl has had success with his new show This Time Next Year and often appears on 60 Minutes.
Hitting back: Nine’s CEO told The Telegraph he built a $1.8 million package for Lisa, but she wanted $2.3 million
Meanwhile a network insider told the Sydney Morning Herald that if Nine had paid Lisa the amount she wanted they would have had to subsidise her pay with job cuts.
‘If she got what she wanted we would have had to cut 10 producers’ jobs … that is the reality,’ the insider told the publication.
Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Nine for comment.
Marks’s statements come after reports Channel Nine executives were completely blindsided by the star’s abrupt departure after they failed to meet her demands on Monday night.
Entertainment journalist Peter Ford told News Corp on Tuesday that negotiations took place over a six month period and Network bosses called the 57-year-old’s bluff when they failed to reach an agreement with her manager Nick Fordham.
‘I hate the fact we have to compare her with Karl’: Nine’s CEO says that the network had rights to complete access with Karl, but that Lisa also had contractual agreements with other companies
‘They were stunned — they called her bluff and said: ‘This isn’t going anywhere, let’s part ways,’ he said.
‘Little did they know she did have another offer set to be taken up with Ten.’
Shortly after news of Lisa’s exit sent shock waves through the Australian media industry, the veteran journalist was revealed as a new host of Ten’s The Project.
Blindsided: Entertainment journalist Peter Ford claims Channel Nine executives were completely blindsided by Lisa’s abrupt departure from the Today show
In the know: ‘They were stunned — they called her bluff and said: ‘This isn’t going anywhere, let’s part ways,’ Peter Ford (pictured) told News Corp
Tribute: On Tuesday, Lisa’s former colleagues Karl (2-L) and Sylvia Jeffreys (L) paid tribute to the star during a live broadcast
Despite reports claiming Network Nine was left ‘scrambling’ to find a replacement for Lisa in the wake of her sudden departure, a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that is not the case.
‘Nine today confirmed we have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period,’ a statement read.
‘Nine will be going in another direction and will be considering our options in the coming weeks and months.’
Out: Despite Network Nine stating that it wished Lisa well, some commentators claim its executives were keen to get her out of the building
On Tuesday, Lisa’s former colleagues Karl Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys paid tribute to the star during a live broadcast.
Despite the Network stating that it wished her well, Peter Ford claims executives were keen to get her out of the building.
Appearing on KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O on Tuesday he said: ‘They said they love Lisa but it didn’t stop them cancelling her swipe card at 5.05!’
When Jackie then asked Peter what had happened he replied: ‘Everything just collapsed. What they didn’t realise is she had a Plan B.’
‘She wanted to be paid the same as Karl,’ he continued.
‘She was basically carrying him!’ Peter Ford claims that Lisa Wilkinson kept the Today show together after Karl Stefanovic’s much-publicised divorce
Referring to Karl’s much-publicised divorce from his wife of 21 years Cassandra Thorburn and subsequent relationship with Jamine Yarbrough, Peter said that Karl had become ‘a bit of a turn off for women.’
Peter said that Lisa ‘was keeping it all together’ and ‘basically carrying him [Karl]’ so found herself in a strong position to bargain for a better salary.
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by radio host Em Rusciano on Tuesday.
Speaking on The Em Rusciano Radio Show with Harley Breen, she said: ‘Lisa is loved by the female audience and has lifted Karl up as he became very unpopular with females after he divorce.
‘Lisa is valuable ointment to Karl and Channel 9 you have made a massive mistake.’
Lisa will start her new job on The Project in January, hosting the show on Sunday night and starring on the panel alongside Carrie Bickmore, Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar during the week.