Josh Elliott Leaving NBC After Less Than Two Years (Exclusive)

Josh Elliott  - H 2015
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Autism Speaks

The former 'Good Morning America' co-anchor was part of the core ABC anchor team that, in 2012, snapped the 16-year winning streak of NBC’s 'Today.'

Josh Elliott, the former Good Morning America co-anchor who was considered a major hire in spring 2014 when he was poached from ABC, is leaving NBC after less than two years.

"I'm grateful for the chance to work with the remarkable team at NBC Sports, and appreciate their support as I look forward to what's next," Elliott told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.

Elliott, 44, was part of the core ABC anchor team that, in 2012, snapped the 16-year winning streak of NBC’s Today. He was tapped in 2011 by then-ABC News president Ben Sherwood, who had watched Elliott on sister network ESPN.

“Josh and NBC Sports mutually decided to part ways, and we wish him the best of luck in the future,” NBC said in a statement to THR.

It’s unclear what Elliott’s next move will be. But there is industry speculation that he could land at Fox Sports, where he would once again work with erstwhile ESPN executive Jamie Horowitz, who is now running programming at the division’s cable networks, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. Horowitz has lately been hiring talent for the cable channels including Jason Whitlock after Whitlock’s rocky stint at ESPN, and Colin Cowherd, who also was hired away from ESPN. In his brief stint as the executive in charge of NBC’s Today, Horowitz championed positioning Elliott as the heir apparent to Matt Lauer. Lauer, who lately has presided over a restabilization at the NBC program, is under contract only until next year.

Publicly, Elliott, who debuted on NBC Sports with the 2014 Kentucky Derby, consistently brushed off prognostications that he would eventually figure prominently on Today. “No news role has been discussed with me,” Elliott told reporters during a conference call announcing his NBC Sports gig in April 2014. “I hope Matt Lauer is here when I step away from this gig 30 years down the road. I can tell you that the only discussions I have had, as they relate to news, [are] ways to supply sports content to them."

But that was, in fact, the plan hatched by Horowitz during his stint as the executive in charge of Today. Elliott had to sit out a six-month non-compete clause in his ABC contract, but he subsequently appeared on Today in the course of his job as a sports anchor. It's obvious that he was rather underutilized at NBC Sports, with its numerous marquee rights packages (Sunday Night Football, the Olympics) and no shortage of headliners and correspondents. And exit negotiations between NBC and representatives for Elliott began several weeks ago. 

Elliott’s contract negotiations with ABC News were the topic of numerous media reports thanks in part to their protracted nature. Contrary to how anchor exits are generally handled — with a public thank you and well wishes for the future — Sherwood released a statement that revealed in part that there was “a significant gap between our generous offer and [Elliott’s] expectations.” Sources told THR at the time that Elliott was asking for $10 million a year in an escalating contract that topped out at more than $13 million, while ABC News was offering him $5 million annually. Amy Robach, who was a frequent fill-in for Robin Roberts during Roberts’ 2012 illness, immediately replaced Elliott. Since then, Michael Strahan also has become a recurring contributor on the show.

Elliott has maintained that his exit from GMA was driven by a desire to return to sports, where his career began. But it's also clear that he misses the day-to-day exposure that morning TV afforded him.