There’s no certainty that Matt Lauer will leave “Today” when his current contract expires next year, but NBC News is reportedly already developing contingency plans. The Wall Street Journal was first with a report that top brass from the Peacock Network met with Ryan Seacrest Tuesday evening (12/6) to discuss having him join Today.
Seacrest already hosts and produces a daily show on E!, which became part of NBCUniversal when Comcast became NBCU’s majority owner. That deal also expires in 2012 and the WSJ says Comcast has been talking with Seacrest for months about how to increase his involvement with the company.
Of course, Seacrest already has a lot on his plate. Most Americans know him as the host of “American Idol” on Fox. The #1 show on television is not part of NBCU and Seacrest draws a big paycheck from that show. Just over a year ago he also signed a new $60 million, three-year deal with Clear Channel Radio and its Premiere Radio Networks to continue his daily radio show based at KIIS-FM Los Angeles and other syndicated radio programs. He is pictured (left) with Clear Channel Communications CEO Bob Pittman and Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
While Seacrest made his mark in radio, he’s become increasingly in demand for television since Idol made him a household name. Larry King had wanted Seacrest to be his successor on CNN, but the network settled on Piers Morgan as having more new interviewing experience.
Forbes magazine estimates that NBC would pay $17-20 million per year to land Seacrest, although he’d likely have to give up his daily radio show to be able to take on the Today gig.
RBR-TVBR observation: Seacrest certainly has the name identification, but does he have the gravitas to host a program that’s part of NBC News? The New York Daily News put that question to its readers, asking if Seacrest would be a good replacement for Lauer on Today.
The overwhelming vote was for “No, Seacrest isn’t a qualified newsman and would be better suited for a pure entertainment show.”