Even as his show struggles in the ratings, one of the fixtures of morning television has been given a multiyear contract extension. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter reports that “Today” co-host Matt Lauer signed a new pact with NBC.
The move comes despite "Today's" recent ratings struggle, and after Lauer became a lightning rod for criticism over the ouster of his former co-anchor, Ann Curry, Carter notes.
The contract, which extends longer than two years, is a “new endorsement” of Lauer after “Today” lost ratings ground to ABC’s “Good Morning America," Carter writes. Lauer's current deal was set to expire in the next few months.
Carter notes: “The network has also promoted the show’s recent ratings, which have brought ‘Today’ closer to ‘GMA’ among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, or those that are sold to advertisers on morning news. While ‘GMA’ still commands a sizable lead among total viewers, the gap among those salable viewers has narrowed in some recent weeks. Two weeks ago, ‘Today’ closed the gap to 88,000 viewers, though ABC increased that to 184,000 this past week. ‘GMA’ wins among total audience by between 800,000 and one million viewers.”
In a statement, Lauer said, “I consider this the best job in broadcasting. I love people I work with every day and I have such respect and gratitude for the people I work for. I couldn’t be happier to be staying.”
Lauer, who is the longest-serving anchor in “Today's" history, is said to earn between $20 million and $25 million a year.
In a statement, NBC News President Deborah Turness noted: “We couldn’t be more thrilled with Matt’s decision. As I’ve said many times before, he’s the best in the business, and there is nobody I would rather have in the 'Today' anchor chair than Matt.”