Ann Curry announces she is leaving ‘Today’ show with teary goodbye

"Today" show hosts Ann Curry and Matt Lauer appear on set.

Ann Curry announced on Thursday she was leaving as co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.

Fighting back tears, Curry told viewers at the end of Thursday’s program she would be leaving the show and taking up a new role reporting from around the world for NBC.

“For all of you who saw me as a ground breaker, I am sorry I could not carry the ball across the finish line. But man, I did try,” she told viewers in an emotional farewell.

Since Curry moved from news reader to co-host on June 9, 2011, the morning show’s margin over ABC’s “Good Morning America”, or GMA, has steadily shrunk.

Curry’s departure from the early morning mainstay has been widely expected.

The Hollywood Reporter reported on Tuesday that the job had been offered to Savannah Guthrie, who hosts the show’s third hour. An NBC spokeswoman was not available to comment.

USA Today reports that Curry signed a new multiyear contract with Comcast-owned NBC, and will lead a seven-person unit charged with covering worldwide stories.

Curry had $10 million remaining on her four-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of her agreement.

Since Curry moved from news reader to co-host on June 9, 2011, the morning show’s margin over ABC’s “Good Morning America”, or GMA, has steadily shrunk.

With Meredith Vieira sitting next to co-host Matt Lauer, the show regularly beat GMA, and led by 650,000 viewers the week before Curry replaced her, according to Nielsen numbers supplied by media planning and advertising agency Horizon Media.

GMA on ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, drew more viewers in four of the 10 weeks before June 11, 2011, among those who watched it live or recorded the same day.

“Throughout all the turmoil, Ann Curry has taken the high road and has handled the situation with class and dignity,” said Brad Adgate, Horizon’s senior vice president of research. “Unfortunately it’s a personality-driven show and Matt Lauer is the star, so I suspect the chemistry was lacking on air.”

Curry was Lauer’s third co-host, following Vieira and Katie Couric, who preceded Lauer and left in 2006 after 15 years to anchor CBS’s evening news program.

Curry succeeded Lauer as the early morning show’s news anchor in 1997, when Lauer replaced Brian Gumble.

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