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NBC 's 'Today' show dominates morning ratings in wake of Lauer firing

NBC 's 'Today' show dominates morning ratings in wake of Lauer firing

NBC's "Today" show dominated the morning show ratings race last week amid the sudden firing of longtime host Matt Lauer due to sexual harassment allegations.

"Today" beat rival "Good Morning America" by more than 539,000 viewers for the week ending on Dec. 1, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"Today" delivered an average 4.9 million viewers, while ABC's "GMA" registered 4.36 million. "CBS This Morning," which saw host Charlie Rose fired on Nov. 21, averaged 3.53 million.

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On the day of the Lauer firing announcement, a whopping 5.74 million tuned in.

Lauer's firing was announced on the air on Nov. 28 by co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.

“Today” has regularly held the top spot in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet but invariably is beaten by "GMA" in total viewers.

With Rose and Lauer ousted in the span of two weeks, ABC's George Stephanopoulos remains the only male host of a network morning show.

NBC has yet to decide on a replacement for Lauer, who hosted the morning program for more than two decades.

"Today" weekend co-host Craig Melvin is rumored as a possible replacement, according to Entertainment Tonight. Willie Geist, who has hosted "Today" in the past, is also being considered. A decision is not expected until after the new year.

Lauer exited NBC as the highest-paid anchor in broadcast news at an estimated $25 million per year.

Megyn Kelly, who hosts the third hour of "Today" in the form of "Megyn Kelly Today," is now NBC's highest paid host at a reported $18 million per year.

The 59-year-old Lauer issued an apology Thursday following several reports of his sexual misconduct during his time at NBC.

"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry," Lauer said after being silent on the matter on Wednesday. "As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC."

"Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly," he continued.

"Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job," Lauer said. "The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."