TMZ is reporting that Ann Curry will be relieved of her Today Show duties as early as next week but that the move will cost the network a bundle, as she has two years remaining on a $10 million-a-year contract.
Curry, who succeeded Meredith Vieira last June, never clicked with co-host Matt Lauer and the ratings have suffered as a result.
In late April, ABC’s Good Morning America broke a 16-year stranglehold by Today as the top rated morning show and then repeated the feat just a couple of weeks later.
That ratings slip by Today was all that the NBC brass needed to decide that the Curry era was over and that Matt Lauer needed a new co-host. But unlike her predecessors, Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira, who left on their own terms, Curry is being pushed out as fast as NBC can figure out who should replace her. The most likely scenario is that NBC will go with Savannah Guthrie who is already the co-host of the 9 a.m. hour of the show and is an experienced host and correspondent.
NBC can ill afford another mistake with the Today Show as it brings in a reported $200 million a year in profits, representing the lion’s share of NBC News’ profits and well ahead of both Good Morning America and CBS This Morning.
While the amount owed to Curry may seem like a steep price for the network to pay to get rid of her, it may be NBC’s best option, as any delay may impact the show’s profits to an even greater degree and cost the network more than the value of Curry’s current contract.