NBCUniversal is scrambling to find a replacement for no-longer-interested Today co-host Matt Lauer, whose contract ends in 2012. And the network might have struck a chord with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.
Seacrest’s contract for E! News, under Comcast, the parent company of NBC and E!, expires early next year and Comcast is eager to keep him on board.
The host has had raving success as a reality TV world, both as the host of American Idol and E! News, and as the role of producer for the Kardashians.
Lauer, who has been a staple in the hit morning show “Today” since 1997, has survived co-anchors Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, and now Ann Curry. He expressed interest in letting his contract expire once Vieira left the show.
Morning shows like “Today,” which earned more than $500 million in ad revenue in 2010, are increasingly important franchises for broadcast networks to maintain. “As audiences fragment, morning shows are one of the few kinds of programming besides sports that draw large, loyal audiences,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Recently, ABC’s Good Morning America, a rival morning show, has been gaining ground on the once gold-standard Today. According to the Washington Post, the shows’ ratings are the closest they’ve been in years.
Executives hope to draw a younger audience with Seacrest, who already hosts a daily syndicated radio show with a weekly audience of more than 20 million listeners.