Industry

'Panicked' NBC reportedly asked Savannah Guthrie to come back early from maternity leave

Reuters

 (Reuters)

Savannah Guthrie cut her maternity leave short by four days, and sources say it’s because brass at “Today” were stressing over ratings.

“The show was in a free fall. She initially announced that she’d be returning on March 3, but they were in a panic . . . and called her back early,” an industry insider told Page Six.

Guthrie surprised Matt Lauer on-air last week, days after Lester Holt and Bryant Gumbel filled in as co-hosts.

“Their bro-show didn’t work. They needed Savannah to bail them out, so they rushed her from maternity leave. NBC claimed it was because of the influx of news, but the reality is that the show was down double-digits and they needed her,” the source said.

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Guthrie’s return did not produce the numbers to keep competition at bay.

On Tuesday, ABC sent out a press release crowing, “ ‘Good Morning America’ delivers largest total viewer lead over ‘Today’ in 14 months.”

An NBC source was quick to point out that ABC’s win was thanks to the Oscars. “GMA has been down double-digits in the key demo [ages 25 to 54] for months while ‘Today’ has been posting gains. Last week, ABC had the Oscars broadcast, which historically gives ‘GMA’ a huge boost.”

A “Today” rep added it’s “been No. 1 in the key demo for 20 straight months, its best winning streak in more than four years, and its advantages over ‘GMA’ have reached five-year highs.”

This article originally appeared in the New York Post.

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