Matt Lauer ABC Talks: Used Outside Contract to Get $25 Million NBC Deal

NBC's Matt Lauer considered switching networks and moving to ABC, a new report has claimed.

Lauer was in talks with ABC and used the possibility of an outside network contract to improve his position at NBC, a new report states. NBC's "Today Show" has suffered in ratings over the past year. Following the departure of Ann Curry, the network lost half a million viewers and eventually dropped behind its longtime competitor "Good Morning America."

But the network could have been in even more serious trouble according, to journalist Joe Hagen, who wrote in a New York magazine feature that Lauer considered moving to ABC.

Bob Iger, chief of ABC's parent company, Disney, wanted Lauer at ABC, the report claims. At the same time, NBC was considering replacing Lauer with Ryan Seacrest. Recruiting Seacrest was more of an "insurance policy" Hagen wrote, but Lauer learned of the recruitment and became "angered."

Lauer began serious talks with ABC and considering reuniting with his former co-host Katie Couric. Executives at ABC were convinced that Lauer had made his decision.

"In their minds, the deal was done, with only the legalities to be worked out," Hagen wrote of Iger and other ABC execs.

But Lauer used the ABC offer to negotiate a better deal with NBC instead, and Seacrest was transitioned into a different position. Not more than a week later, with a $25 million contract for a 4-day workweek, Lauer was named: "The Most Powerful Face in News."

Lauer's contract renewal also meant that NBC would be letting Ann Curry go.

"Lauer says Curry's name never came up in his contract talks. (Burke declined to comment.) But her fate was already sealed," Hagen reported, adding that the network's new plan would be to "rebuild" the Today Show "around Lauer."

Fans however, have been unable to forget Ann Curry and her last day of tears on the show.

"I don't watch the Today show because of Matt Lauer. I'm not a fan of how they handled the departure of Ann Curry," one fan wrote on a People Magazine blog. Many others agreed.