NBC prepping for Meredith Vieira’s likely ‘Today’ exit

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With media attention focused on turmoil at other network newscasts, NBC’s top-rated morning show is quietly weighing its own shake-up as co-host Meredith Vieira considers a future without Today.

Vieira, who seamlessly took the reins opposite Matt Lauer nearly five years ago, is said to be considering leaving the program when her reported $11 million annual contract expires in September. According to sources, Vieira, 57, has tired of the grueling lifestyle and would like to spend more time with her ill husband.

“There is going to be an opening; she’s done,” says one source with knowledge of the situation. Another suggests she is still making her decision but that re-upping looks unlikely.

The possible Today transition comes in the wake of continued ratings erosion for broadcast news in general as well as a shakeup at CBS’ The Early Show and tinkering at ABC’s Good Morning America. While the broadcast morning shows still command significant audiences compared to their early hours competition – programs on NBC, ABC and CBS averaged 12.4 million viewers in aggregate last year– they have largely failed to build viewership among the younger demographics favored by advertisers. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual State of the News Media report, morning news fell another 3% in 2010, the sixth consecutive year of losses.

Full story: NBC prepping for Meredith Vieira’s likely ‘Today’ exit