NEW YORK — Add Jane Pauley to the growing list of NBC News stars signing longterm deals with the Peacock.
The “Dateline NBC” co-anchor has quietly inked a new agreement that will pay her in the neighborhood of $5.5 million per year and keep her at the network for at least five more years, according to industry insiders familiar with the pact. Pauley had been making around $4.5 million annually.
An NBC News spokeswoman Monday confirmed the new agreement, but declined to comment on any details of the deal.
NBC and Pauley negotiated the new contract earlier this month without any of the media hype that surrounded the web’s talks with “Today” show co-anchor Katie Couric and Pauley’s “Dateline” colleague, Stone Phillips. Couric last week agreed to a new four-year pact worth between $6 million and $7 million per year, while Phillips recently reupped for six years at an annual rate of nearly $5 million.
Pauley’s deal may have actually been completed before the Phillips and Couric negotiations were finalized, NBC insiders say.
While Pauley’s old contract with NBC still had at least a year left to go, the upcoming expansion of “Dateline” from four to five nights per week provided a logical reason to work out a new deal with the network. NBC News execs also knew Phillips was set to get a big salary boost and didn’t want Pauley to feel underappreciated, according to one source.
With Pauley at the helm, “Dateline” has become one of NBC’s strongest primetime weapons, allowing the web to draw a respectable Nielsen number in just about any time period. Though “Dateline” is largely story-driven, Pauley is regarded by some NBC News execs as the show’s secret weapon because of her perception by viewers as trustworthy.
Pauley has been with NBC News for more than 20 years and is still best known for her role as co-anchor of “Today” from 1977 until late 1989, when she was unceremoniously dumped in favor of Deborah Norville. She’s been with “Dateline” since its 1992 premiere.
In addition to Pauley, Couric and Phillips, NBC News has recently hammered out longterm megadeals with Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Tim Russert and Geraldo Rivera. The agreements are part of a network-wide strategy of locking in talent for as long as possible.