NBC executives are in talks with "Today" show co-host Ann Curry about moving her to one of the network's news programs, only a year after she succeeded Meredith Viera at the morning show, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.
Curry has three years remaining on her contract and would need to be paid "in the neighborhood" of $10 million to settle her contract, according to one of the sources.
"Today" has slipped in the ratings since Curry took the chair across from Matt Lauer in June 2011.
In April, ABC's "Good Morning America" moved ahead of "Today" in the weekly ratings race among total viewers for the first time in 16 years, according to Brad Adgate, media analyst for Horizon Media. "Today" kept the lead among adults age 25 to 54.
Since then, the two shows have traded the No. 1 spot among total viewers.
Finding a new slot for Curry has slowed the talks for weeks, according to one of the sources. NBC had hoped to announce her departure around the time of its upfront ad sales in May, and is now eager to make the switch before the London Olympics, which NBC covers with its "Today" anchors and others.
The Summer Games begin July 27.
Natalie Morales, the show's news anchor, and Savannah Guthrie, legal analyst and co-host of the show's third hour, are considered the most likely candidates to replace Curry, although Lauer is expected to be consulted before a new anchor joins.
A spokeswoman for NBC News could not be reached for comment.
News of the talks was first reported by the New York Times on its Media Decoder blog.
Last year, the "Today" show generated $848 million in advertising revenue for NBC, making it one of the most profitable shows on television, according to Horizon Media. "Good Morning America" generated about $298 million.
"Today" remains a "huge profit center" for NBC, which has suffered for years from low primetime ratings and just recorded the lowest ad sales at this year's upfront-selling season for primetime ads, Adgate said.
"They probably can't afford another revenue loss and PR black eye by losing out to 'GMA,'" he said.
Comcast Corp owns NBC, and Walt Disney Co owns ABC. (Reporting By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Peter Lauria and Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Gary Hill)
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