In the months following Katie Couric’s decision to leave her position at CBS Evening News, rumors swirled about the anchor’s next move as negotiations took place behind the scenes, resulting in a deal with ABC—and The New York Times now has all the juicy details.
Despite her failure to rescue ratings for the CBS News program, the Times says that Couric remained a “hot property,” holding meetings with top brass from ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN for a syndicated daytime show. With the departure of Oprah Winfrey from her afternoon slot, networks were seeking to fill the void, and Couric felt that she would now be able to enter the arena without any sort of rivalry. “I never wanted to compete with her, because no one could,” Couric said.
Executives from NBC wooed Couric at the St. Regis hotel in February with an elaborate presentation, but negotiations fell apart due to what the network believed were “excessive demands,” like Couric asking for a guaranteed 4 o’clock spot nationwide. Couric’s team thought that NBC was too inexperienced with syndication. (NBC later tried to save face by saying that she was “too unpopular.”) Meanwhile, CBS made an “impressive push,” but was insisting that Couric focus only on a syndicated show, while she wanted to be given a role in the news department as well.
ABC began courting Couric in March, offering her a continuing position in the news division on top of a daytime show, although they didn’t guarantee her the 4 o’clock hour. After a final meeting of Couric’s team, which came down to a pro-and-con list between ABC and CBS, they decided that ABC was the right choice.
Although terms of the deal with ABC are unknown, one network’s chief negotiator who had been vying for a contract with Couric told the Times, “We all know what we’re looking at with a successful syndicated show—$100 million to $300 million a year.”
Couric said that she wants to build her new program around conversations with news makers like Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, as well as conduct interviews for Nightline and do political reporting.