Katie Couric will return to “The Today Show” for the first week in January to sub for co-host Savannah Guthrie, who went on maternity leave in early December.
A Los Angeles Times story, which first reported the move, was confirmed by NBC News, which declined to comment further. Former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira is also expected to fill in for Guthrie for a week.
Couric, currently the global anchor for Yahoo News, has periodically been back as a guest to “Today” since leaving in 2006 for “CBS Evening News,” as first solo female anchor of a nightly broadcast news program. She was also guest-host for a week on “Good Morning America” in 2012. This will be her first full week back to “Today.”
If only for that week, this is significant for “Today” and its longtime star. There’s nothing here to indicate Couric’s ties with Yahoo are tenuous — despite Yahoo’s ongoing challenges — and conceivably the exact opposite: After all, what better platform to remind Yahoo viewers that she was once the pre-eminent star of morning television?
Conversely, what helps Couric could also benefit “Today,” still in second place in the morning in total viewers — but gaining (about 4.56 million viewers on average this past season to 4.66 for “Good Morning America,” although “Today” has won individual weeks here and there.) Opposite “GMA,” both “Today” and especially “CBS This Morning” have made gains and inroads. (For months, “Today” has been morning leader among viewers coveted by morning advertisers, the 25-54 cohort.)
Couric left “Today” a decade ago on good terms — or, specifically, good terms with co-anchor Matt Lauer, with whom she had a cordial relationship on-screen and off. There were later reports (unconfirmed) Lauer had briefly considered joining Couric in a syndicated venture. After her “Evening News” ride ended in 2011, Couric instead launched her own syndicated show for Disney a year later.
She joined Yahoo in 2013 and reportedly renewed her deal there in 2015.