9:18pm PT by Aaron Couch, Marisa Guthrie
NBC Extends Matt Lauer's 'Today' Contract
Matt Lauer has a reached a new deal with NBC News that will keep him on the Today show for at least two more years. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that with a couple months left on his current deal Lauer made the decision last week to stay and informed NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, News Group chairman Pat Fili-Krushel and NBC News president Deborah Turness. From there a quick negotiation ensued that was finalized late Thursday. There were hugs and applause on the set of the Today show Friday morning.
The news was first reported Thursday night by The New York Times.
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Sources say NBC News executives had been urging Lauer to stay at Today. And certainly he remains the show's lynchpin, while the messy anchor transition of 2012 recedes further into the past. The new deal will take Lauer into his 20th year on the show, where he started as a news reader before becoming fill-in for then co-host Bryant Gumbel.
"We couldn't be more thrilled with Matt's decision," Turness said in a statement. "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."
Added Lauer: "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."
Turness, who joined NBC News last summer from Britain's ITV, has reconfigured the show to stress a more uplifting message and expanded the anchor ensemble beyond Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales. The Voice host Carson Daly presides over the show's social media headquarters - called The Orange Room - with Willie Geist and Tamron Hall joining in the later hours of the show.
Today has enjoyed an uptick among viewers in the 25-54 demographic - the demo upon which the bulk of news programing is sold to media buyers. But the show remains firmly in second place to ABC's Good Morning America. Lately network executives have touted the show's appeal with younger viewers, adults 18-49, where it performs better than GMA.