NEW YORK -- Former football star Michael Strahan is being shifted from the daily talk show he co-hosts with Kelly Ripa to work full-time on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The change comes as "Good Morning America" tries to shore up sinking ratings at a time of tighter competition with NBC's "Today" show. The move reflects the importance of the show to parent Walt Disney Co.'s bottom line.
Strahan has worked a couple days a week at "GMA" for the past two years, but he always leaves midway through the show to head to the "Live with Kelly and Michael" studio on Manhattan's upper West Side. Beginning in September, he'll be on "GMA" five days a week for the full two-hour show. He will join the show's regular cast of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer, Amy Robach and Ginger Zee.
In 2012, the former New York Giant was selected to replace Regis Philbin as Ripa's co-host on the talk show, which airs directly after "Good Morning America" at 9 a.m. in most markets.
"Michael's proven to be a tireless and versatile broadcaster with an incredible ability to connect with people, from veterans and all kinds of newsmakers to a host of American cultural icons," ABC News President James Goldston said. "He is a great modern thinker and leader."
"Good Morning America" remains television's most popular morning show, with an average of 4.96 million viewers a day since the beginning of the year. But that audience is down 10 percent from 2015, according to the Nielsen company.
More importantly, "GMA" is down 15 percent among viewers aged 25 to 54, and that's the demographic most advertising rates for news programs are based on. NBC now leads ABC in this category for 2016.
Given a choice of trying to help one show while simultaneously hurting another, it was no contest: Disney has much more money at stake with "Good Morning America" than with "Live with Kelly and Michael."
ABC said Tuesday that a search for Strahan's replacement as Ripa's partner will begin in the fall. "Live" is a solid performer in the ratings and was a close second to "Dr. Phil" among daytime syndicated shows in the most recent ratings report. Ripa and Strahan shared an Emmy for outstanding entertainment talk show hosts last year.
"The combination has been great for the show," said Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Media. "Michael has brought a new audience to the show and a great energy working with Kelly."
The show's chief advantage in searching for a replacement is longtime producer Michael Gelman, who dates back to the show's formative years with Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford. The show has commitments to be on the air at least through 2020.
Strahan, who retired from the NFL in 2008 following a 15-year playing career, will remain a co-host of "NFL on Fox" on the weekends.