LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Lauer is sticking with the “Today” show.
Lauer plans to announce Friday on the air that he has signed a long-term contract to remain as co-host of the top-rated morning show, NBC News spokeswoman Megan Kopf said Thursday.
Although “Today” is on a historic winnings streak in the ratings, ABC competitor “Good Morning America” has been gaining ground.
Lauer’s decision provides important stability for “Today” and puts to rest speculation that he might reunite with his former co-host, Katie Couric, on the syndicated show she’s launching this fall.
Lauer said last May that he had discussed joining with Couric on a new venture. But he predicted then that he would be staying at “Today” for “a long time.”
He’s been a fixture with the show since 1994, and “Today” has remained No. 1 in the weekly ratings since 1995.
The morning scene drew increased attention this week as the NBC and ABC programs featured dueling celebrity co-host: “Today” had Sarah Palin for a day, while Couric is spending the week as substitute anchor at “GMA.”
Palin, the former Alaska governor, helped “Today” maintain its winning streak against “GMA” on Tuesday, but Wednesday proved a cautionary tale for NBC.
With Couric on board, “Good Morning America” was able to claim a one-day victory in viewership over “Today.”
About 5.24 million viewers watched “GMA,” while 5.15 million viewers tuned into “Today,” according to the Nielsen Co.
ABC’s advantage was the latest twist in a morning-show battle that has seen “GMA” chipping away at the ratings lead that “Today” has maintained every week for 16 years.
Overall last week, “GMA” shrank its gap behind “Today” to 119,000 viewers from 137,000 the previous week.