“Today” show co-anchor Katie Couric is prepared to walk away from NBC when her contract expires next month unless the web significantly ups the offer currently on the table, sources said Monday.
Couric has been with ‘Today” since 1990, co-anchor since 1991, and one source says she feels the current NBC renewal offer is inadequate. Couric is now making a little more than $2 million per year, and NBC’s offer more than doubles that to the mid-seven-figure range.
While Couric’s first choice would be to stay at NBC, three other networks and a syndicator have approached Couric, and she’s prepared to start entertaining their offers.
High-level executives at a couple of webs have indicated they would be willing to pay Couric much more than NBC is now offering, and they would give her more creative freedom, essentially making her the “star of their future.”
If that’s true, NBC would have to raise its current offer quite a bit and give the anchor more primetime responsibilities to get her to stay. Contract talks were continuing in earnest on Monday.
NBC, the other webs and Couric’s agent had no comment.
Another former “Today” anchor, Bryant Gumbel, last year was offered a similarly huge deal by CBS. He’s being paid $5 million a year, plus stock options in the company, although his newsmag “Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel” was ratings deprived and left off the fall schedule.
Since Gumbel quit “Today,” though, ratings have soared 13%. “Today” has now been the No. 1 network morning show for 128 straight weeks, winning by 2.4 full ratings points for the past six weeks.
Couric recently lost her husband of nine years to cancer, and a source close to Couric said the news anchor’s primary concern in the contract talks is “securing her kids’ futures.”