After nearly a year of speculation about his future, Matt Lauer is close to signing a blockbuster $25 million-a-year deal to remain as a co-host on "Today," Newsday reported Thursday.
Since at least last April, rumors have been swirling that Lauer -- who has been a host of the top-rated morning show since 1997 -- might bolt when his current contract is up in December. Later reports speculated that Ryan Seacrest was a top candidate to replace Lauer if he decided to leave. Lauer's own admission that he and Katie Couric discussed the possibility of launching a daytime talk show together only added fuel to the fire.
However, Newsday's Verne Gay reported that the deal is likely for at least two years, and possibly three, and could be announced at NBC's annual upfronts to advertisers in May. The deal would add $8 million to Lauer's reported $17 million salary.
It is not surprising that NBC would shell out so much to keep Lauer. He is the undisputed king of morning news, and "Today" has been fending off a newly robust challenge from rival "Good Morning America" for months. Moreover, "Today" is the main cash cow for NBC News, making it that much more important for the show to maintain its ratings supremacy.