Karl’s personal life often overshadowed his professional one and was considered to be the main reason behind his sacking from Today.
But while executives blamed the ratings drop on negative reports about Karl’s personal life, Today had already begun to slip in the ratings.
Karl, who last week received an apology from The Daily Telegraph over its incorrect report that he’d taken a $1 million pay cut to return to his Today role, says he’s ready to win back the audience.
“We are going to fight hard to win back those viewers. My personal life is very settled now, we are happy,” he said, alluding to his marriage to Jasmine Yarbrough, who is reportedly expecting their first baby.
Media analyst Steve Allen told news.com.au Karl’s success will be measured by “making any kind of substantial dent in the gap” between the two shows.
“In the next year, if they can half that deficit between Today and Sunrise, that would be a fantastic outcome,” he said.
Karl said: “My work focus is solely on our stories and the way we tell them. We will have fun and when the time calls for it, we will be serious. We’ve covered big stories all around the world, we know how to do that ... and yes, we are hungry for success.”
Just before Christmas, the first promo for the new-look show saw Karl and Allison – who TV bosses have renamed Ali – say how they are excited to bring ‘big stories’ and humour to viewers.
“We can’t wait to tell you all the news, all the important stuff in the day, but send you off with a laugh,” Karl said.
But it seems the new duo are already well ahead in the popularity stakes.
A poll conducted by news.com.au suggests viewers are more likely to tune in and watch the revamped Today show than its more established and, until now, more popular rival Sunrise.
For the past few weeks the pair, who have been friends and colleagues for years, have already shown their natural chemistry.
When Allison posted to Instagram a picture of her with an arm slung over Karl’s shoulder, he quipped: “It’s almost a head lock. Can’t wait, Ali x.”
In another snap, Karl joked, “Haha get your rest !!!!”, alluding to how they would soon both begin their work day when most people are still asleep.
Karl and Allison’s $100,000 dressing rooms
The Today show has had a very public on-air facelift, but behind the scenes, Karl and Allison’s dressing rooms have also received the same treatment. A Nine Network insider tells New Idea the station has spent big money on keeping their new stars happy.
“Dressing room hierarchy at Nine has always been a big deal! For the launch, Allison now has the old Georgie [Gardner] refurbished dressing room with ensuite and Karl has the old Sonia [Kruger], the second biggest dressing room, which has also been refurbished.”
According to the source, the Nine studios have few ‘star’ dressing rooms, but Today’s past talent has been placated by having their own space. The source also claims the dressing rooms were treated to a luxury $100,000 refurbishment.
“Female presenters were obviously looked after. Lisa [Wilkinson] had one and no other person could share that room post the 9am finish of Today − the door was locked. Georgie had a green room which was turned into a dressing room, but she got Lisa’s when she quit. Sonia Kruger had her own as she spent five plus hours in there,” claims the insider. “All the boys shared little rooms. And they will stay there.”