The worst-kept secret in morning news officially was let out of the bag today, as NBC confirmed that veteran ESPN producer Jamie Horowitz will take the helm at the Today show.
Horowitz on Dec. 1 will assume the role of svp and general manager of Today, where he’ll oversee all four hours of the weekday program and the 30 Rock concert series. He will also be charged with exploring brand development beyond the familiar linear TV and digital platforms.
Sources said that Horowitz will remain with ESPN at least through the NBA Playoffs, although he may stick around through the end of the summer.
“Jamie has the skills, the talent and the experience to lead the Today brand into the future,” said NBC News president Deborah Turness. “He is first and foremost a great producer … [and] he comes at things from unexpected angles and has a popular touch combined with real intellectual creativity.”
Horowitz has his work cut out for him. After dominating ABC’s Good Morning America for 16 years, Today began fading in the spring of 2012. In fits and starts, GMA has supplanted Today as the nation's go-to morning show; per Nielsen, the ABC crew in the first quarter averaged 5.91 million viewers and a 1.9 in the all-important adults 25-54 demo, while Today drew 5.37 million viewers and notched a 1.8 rating.
As ESPN’s vp of original programming and production, Horowitz has developed a number of panel shows, including the shouting-heads/“Embrace Debate” forum, First Take, and the far more cerebral late-night news entry, Olbermann. He also steered ESPN2’s Numbers Never Lie and SportsNation.
The Boston-raised Horowitz joined ESPN in 2006 as a senior producer. The move to Today is a homecoming of sorts, as he began his TV career in 2000 as an NBC Olympics researcher.
Horowitz had been in talks with NBC to take the Today gig as far back as January, but Bristol refused to let him out of his contract. In a statement issued today, Norby Williamson, evp of production, program scheduling and development said the sports giant was appreciative of Horowitz’s contributions and wished him well, before adding that ESPN “will continue to move forward with [its] extremely talented content team.”
For his part, Horowitz said that he was “honored” to join the Today team, adding that the morning show presented an “exciting and invigorating opportunity.” He also thanked ESPN president John Skipper for his support over the last eight years.
The confirmation comes on the heels of NBC Sports’ megabucks Olympics deal, which was announced just as social media began bubbling over with talk about the Horowitz hire.