Ad Rates For Katie's Goodbye More Than Double

Couric's Last Morning on 'Today' Cost Advertisers $110,000 a Spot

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NEW YORK ( -- NBC is making the most of Katie Couric's "Today" finale. According to buyers, the network is charging $110,000 for a 30-second spot in Ms. Couric's final appearance on the morning show she first appeared on 15 years ago. Media buyers got a bargain if they bought the show in last year's upfront, when spots sold for $50,000.

Katie Couric and Matt Lauer
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer Credit: NBC

According to industry executives, media buyers began scrambling for the 25% of available inventory the day before Ms. Couric confirmed her departure on air. Among the major categories ramping up a presence on the show, expected to rate highly, are movie studios, electronics companies, home-appliance manufacturers and travel and tourism marketers. Last week NBC sold the last of 50 units in the three-hour broadcast.

On April 3 Ms. Couric told viewers: "I wanted to tell all of you out there that after listening to my heart and my gut, I've decided I'll be leaving 'Today' at the end of May." She will be managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," and becomes the first woman solo anchor of a nightly news broadcast. CBS is paying a reported $15 million to Ms. Couric for the role, and the network has said it will look for a corresponding increase in ad pricing.

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During the past two weeks, NBC has offered up mini retrospectives of Ms. Couric's tenure at "Today." This morning the program featured former President Clinton, praising Ms. Couric's ability to soften up an interviewee before hitting them with the hard questions, and also Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Tomorrow's show will feature a three-hour Katie blitz. In addition to featuring big celebrities, the hairdos and most memorable moments, it will showcase ordinary viewers offering their own goodbyes. The winner of the "Today" show's biggest-fan contest will get to meet Ms. Couric on-air. Other guests will include Tony Bennett and the stars of the Broadway show "Jersey Boys."

Buyers have also logged calls to NBC about getting on-air for the first broadcast featuring Ms. Couric's replacement, Meredith Vieira. NBC is understood not to have discussed pricing on that show, to air in September, though it is likely to be a major focal point of upfront negotiations for the news segment. NBC reps had no comment.

Retooling 'GMA'
Separately, the "Today" show won't be the only morning broadcast retooling come next season. ABC announced last week that "Good Morning America" co-host Charlie Gibson is moving in as the sole anchor of "World News Tonight," replacing Elizabeth Vargas. However, Mr. Gibson's new role, coupled with speculation about the possible departure of Diane Sawyer, his "GMA" co-host, have left some wondering how the changes will affect ABC's negotiations with buyers in the upfront.
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