NBCU Preps Syndicated Meredith Vieira Show

Former Today show co-anchor returns to morning TV in fall 2014

Two years after bowing out as a co-anchor on NBC’s Today show, Meredith Vieira is planning her return to morning TV. The 59-year-old talk show veteran will saddle up for The Meredith Vieira Show, a syndicated program that will be produced by NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution.

The one-hour show is set to debut in September 2014.

Featuring the sort of celebrity interviews and human-interest segments that are the coin of the realm on morning TV, Vieira’s new show will be taped in New York. Along with her hosting duties, Vieira also will serve as an executive producer. 

Vieira said that her new show will draw on the skills she’s amassed over the course of her 38-year media career, while serving “this fundamental need we have to connect with and find inspiration in each other.”

The new venture was announced today by NBC broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert. “All of us at NBCU are so excited about this new show with Meredith,” Harbert said. “She creates an instant connection with audiences with her smart, quick-witted and down-to-earth style.”

A pilot for the show was shot in May.

Vieira’s various hosting gigs have made her one of the country’s most popular TV personalities. Highlights include a stint as the original moderator of ABC’s The View, the syndie quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2002-13) and co-host of Today.

In January, she announced that she would leave Millionaire after 11 seasons, leading to frenzied speculation that she would be returning to Today. 

Sliding into the seat last occupied by Katie Couric, Vieira co-hosted Today with Matt Lauer from September 2006 to June 2011. It perhaps speaks to Vieira’s rapport with viewers that Today’s ratings did not plummet after the wildly popular Couric departed to anchor the CBS Evening News. (Per Nielsen, Today averaged 5.41 million viewers during the Vieira era, down just 2 percent versus the 5.52 million delivered during Couric’s 15-season rule.)

Couric may find herself in direct competition with her Today show successor—her syndicated program for Disney/ABC Domestic TV, Katie, enters its second season this fall with a new executive producer at the helm (daytime vet Rachel Miskowiec)—although that showdown will only happen if the ratings improve.

After getting off to a strong start, bowing with a 2.8 rating on Sept. 10, Katie’s deliveries dropped off by as much as 26 percent in its fourth week. While the ratings leveled off, they never regained their early luster, and the show is by no means a shoe-in for a third season renewal.