Karl Stefanovic takes break amid ratings dip

KARL Stefanovic is taking a break from the Today show amid reports of dwindling ratings in the wake of his high-profile marriage breakdown.

The 42-year-old was noticeably absent from the seat alongside Lisa Wilkinson this morning, with Ben Fordham taking over in his place.

Radio host Fordham announced via Instagram on Sunday night that he'd be filling in for the week, revealing that Stefanovic is taking a "well-earned rest".

Stefanovic returned to work in January after a seven-week hiatus, following the split from his wife of 21 years, Cassandra Thorburn.

He went public in February with new girlfriend Jasmine Yarbrough, a 33-year-old model and shoe designer.

The new couple went public earlier this year.
The new couple went public earlier this year. Jonathan Ng

The long-time breakfast TV host may simply be recovering from an exhausting stint on the road covering Queensland's cyclone and floods, but it comes just days after entertainment reporter Peter Ford revealed on Kyle and Jackie O that following a strong finish last year, Today is now struggling to keep up with competitor Sunrise.

"The Today show ratings are bad. At the moment they've done private market research at Nine into Karl and it's coming up that women have turned on him," he told the hosts.

That's despite the post-wedding coverage of Sylvia Jeffreys and Peter Stefanovic providing a brief spike in viewers last week, with Channel Nine pulling in 309,000 viewers ahead of Seven's lacklustre 288,000.