NBC's 'Today' show ratings jump after Lauer firing (CMCSA, DIS)

NBC's 'Today' show ratings jump after Lauer firing (CMCSA, DIS)

But when that news is about "Today" itself, the audience response to the program can be quite surprising.

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

Fans of "TODAY" learned that Lauer was sacked on November 29 after a female colleague came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

On Wednesday, 5.7 million people watched Savannah Guthrie read a statement from Matt Lauer in which he said, in about 90 words, that "there are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions" etc.

For the week, Today tallied 4.9M viewers, besting usual frontrunner GMA, which averaged 4.4M.

In the days since embattled TV journalist Matt Lauer was sacked from his top post at NBC News, the network's "Today" show has dominated.

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Interest in the story drove more viewers to "Today" on Thursday and Friday too. On Monday and Tuesday, "Today" attracted greater overall viewership than its ABC competitor, as well as more of the viewers whom advertisers in news programs care about - people between 25 and 54. "CBS This Morning", which saw host Charlie Rose fired on November 21, averaged 3.53 million.

NBC News executives will be watching the Nielsen numbers carefully in the coming weeks as the realization sinks in among faithful "Today" fans that Lauer is permanently gone.

Rumors have been swirling about Lauer's on-set behavior following his prompt dismissal last week.

GMA had 1.41 million while CBS had 933,000 on average for the week. Ad buyers told Variety they're not expecting any notable ratings fluctuations once Lauer's replacement anchor has been selected.

Matt Lauer will not receive a payout for the rest of his million-dollar contract, an NBC News spokesperson confirmed to ABC News. Kotb has been working alongside Guthrie since Lauer's ouster was announced.