Updated: 9:10 a.m. ET
Ann Curry officially announced her departure as co-host of
NBC's Today on-air Thursday
morning, ending weeks of speculation and negotiations about her future in the
"This is not as I expected to ever leave this couch after 15
years," she said toward the end of the 8 a.m. hour as she
choked back tears, while saying she was "so grateful" to the viewers who watched.
Curry has signed a new long-term contract to be Today show anchor-at-large and NBC News
national/international correspondent. She will lead a multi-person reporting unit and produce specials and pieces for NBC
Nightly News, Dateline, Rock Center and Today.
"We're going to do great work I hope, and we're being given
the chance to do work that most of us got into journalism for," Curry said on
In an interview with USA Today Wednesday where Curry first announced her departure, she acknowledged that the
decision to leave Today was NBC's, not
her own, and that she doesn't feel she was given enough time to settle in as
co-host. In her tearful on-air goodbye Thursday, Curry thanked the viewers who supported
her in her one-year turn as co-host.
"For all of you who saw me as a ground-breaker, I'm sorry I
couldn't carry the ball over the finish line, but man, I did try," she said.
Savannah Guthrie, currently host of Today's 9 a.m. hour, is reportedly in line to replace Curry, though
no such succession plan has yet been announced..
Curry took over as co-host from Meredith Vieira a year ago,
and had what many characterized as a rocky transition from the role of Today newsreader, which she held for 14
years, to the fluffier interviews required of a co-anchor.
In April, longtime Today
co-anchor Matt Lauer renewed his contract at the network,
paving the way for NBC News executives to start negotiating for Curry's exit.
The anchor transition is especially important, as Today has faced increased ratings
pressure from ABC's Good Morning America
in recent months. In April, GMA broke
Today's 16-year win streak as the most-watched morning program and won three weeks after that, though Today has been back on top for the last
Today has remained
No. 1 in the advertiser-coveted adults 25-54 demo for 894 straight weeks,
however, and is said to bring in $500 million in advertising revenue a year.
The timing of Curry's exit
allows Today to travel to the
Olympics, where it will broadcast from London during NBC's coverage of the
Games, with its new team in place. In a press conference Wednesday for its
Olympics coverage, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said the Games were a chance to
"revitalize the Today show," calling the Olympics a "catalytic" event for how the company promotes its