Matt Lauer is going to be staying at “Today” for awhile longer — and with a healthy paycheck.
The co-host of NBC’s morning show has snagged a reported $20 million annual payday to stay with the program through well into 2018, according to a New York Post report. He first became a “Today” co-anchor in 1997. The Post story said the new deal may have been clinched months ago, but did not specify exactly when.
An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment.
However, Lauer’s deal may not be as rich as the one he signed in 2012, which was reportedly worth $25 million a year.
Lauer is already the longest-serving “Today” host in history, far surpassing Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric and Jane Pauley, each of whom was on the show for 15 years.
But in recent years, Lauer has become a lightning rod for criticism. In September, he was excoriated on both the left and the right for his handling of a prime-time forum between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton supporters, in particular, lambasted him for frequently interrupting the candidate and chiding her to state her points “as briefly as you can.”
Over the summer, the long-married Lauer felt compelled to deny widely reported rumors of an affair with former “Today” personality Natalie Morales.
He was also widely blamed — perhaps unfairly — for engineering the ouster of former co-host Ann Curry, who left the program with a tearful and awkward on-air goodbye in 2012.
But Lauer is delivering where it counts: Ratings.
For the just-concluded November ratings sweep, “Today” was No. 1 in the key demographic of adults aged 25 to 54, according to Nielsen. And it has closed the total-viewer gap with arch-rival “Good Morning America,” logging 4.7 million viewers compared with “GMA’s” 4.8 million.
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