By Jen Heger – Radar Assistant Managing Editor
The 54-year-old co-host, who earns a whopping $25 million-a-year, faces the axe if the embattled morning news program continues to lose viewers to rival Good Morning America – and a replacement for Lauer has already been mooted.
“News executive Alexandra Wallace has told NBC bosses she will have to replace Matt if the ratings continue to tank,” a show insider tells RadarOnline.com. “The TODAY show has always been considered a cash cow for the network. It dominated the morning news ratings for years and brought in millions of dollars in ad revenue.
“But, if viewers continue preferring Good Morning America over the TODAY show that revenue will decrease and cuts will have to be made.
“Matt’s contract pays him $25 million-a-year, and he just signed an extension to that deal last year before the ratings started falling.
“However, Alexandra has told her bosses if the show isn’t pulling in more viewers by February, she has no alternative but to fire Matt.
“The replacement is likely to be Willie Geist. He has been wildly popular with viewers and the crew since he was named co-host of the third hour of the show,” the insider divulges.
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, the once-dominant morning show lost to rival Good Morning America on Wednesday by the biggest margin in more than 10 years. The gap was 1.3 million people, according to Brian Stelter of the New York Times.
Back then, executive producer Jim Bell said it was his decision alone to sack the popular journalist.
But, two weeks ago, Bell stepped down from his TODAY show post to work in the sports department at the Peacock network and announced he would be focusing on the Olympics.