One day before ratings come out that will probably show ABC’s morning infotainment program “Good Morning America” beat NBC’s “Today” show for the fifth week in the past 10 weeks, word got out that, to the surprise of no one, NBC News was working on a plan to do what almost always happens in these situations — replace the female co-anchor.
In this case it’s Ann Curry, the show’s former news reader who, after being passed over at least once, got the co-anchor gig only when Meredith Vieira vacated the job in June of 2011.
Since December, when The Reporters Who Cover Television were jolted out of their post-November sweep slumber after spotting NBC News suits dining with Ryan Seacrest, there’d been rampant speculation as to the future on “Today” of Matt Lauer, who’d floated word he might opt to leave, and Curry, whose future on the show had looked iffier as the ratings sank.
Things looked a lot bleaker for our Nell in April, when two things happened the week Lauer’s old “Today” partner Katie Couric filled in at “GMA”:
1) Lauer announced he’d signed a new contract and would remain anchor-in-chief of the morning infotainment show
2) “Today” producers announced they’d signed a big mystery “get” for that week, who turned out be Vieira, returning to the show to announce she would help out with Summer Olympics coverage.
It’s expected Curry will be given another gig within the NBC News fold.
“We’re stuck with you, for a long time,” Ann Curry joshed to Lauer when he made his announcement – tragically, given the odds that were then being given on her prospects of remaining with the show.
“GMA” has beat “Today” show in total viewers four of the last nine weeks – and that stat is expected to become five of the past 10 weeks, based on early stats for last week’s ratings.
Among the 25-54 year old viewers who are the currency of news programming, “GMA” this season has cut in half its year-to-year ratings gap with “Today” and now stands the closest to the NBC show that it’s ever been in the past 16 years.
NBC News execs declined to comment.