Interesting story from the New York Post today involving Al Roker's expiring contract with the "Today" show. According to their website, NBC will use Sam Champion as leverage while they're in negotiations with Roker to extend his contract. NBC believes that they won't have to pay Roker as much for his next contract because they could simply replace him with The Weather Channel's Sam Champion, who is almost as popular as Roker.
Roker has told his agents to start looking at other places for him to move to in case his negotiations with NBC become icy. I doubt Roker leaves "Today" any time soon unless he wants to. Champion is under contract to host a morning show for TWC over the next three years and the likelihood that TWC will want their morning weatherman on another show full-time in the same timeslot is slim to none unless a strategy is worked out where he splits his time between the two shows in a similar way to what Roker (TWC/Today) and Willie Geist (Morning Joe/Today) currently do.
Also, Champion was drawn to work at TWC mainly because it's located in Atlanta which is closer to his husband in Miami than New York is. Will he want to go back to living in New York full-time? Let's also not forget that Al Roker is the MOST POPULAR host on the "Today" show according to his Q Score (an industry wide survey which tests the popularity of TV personalities). Could "Today"'s ratings erode even more without Roker at the helm?
"Today" will eventually need to transition to younger cast members and that transition is already in process with the additions of Savannah, Tamron, Willie and Carson. But with ratings still rocky, it wouldn't be wise for the show to make such a drastic change to it's lineup especially when you consider that Roker has been with the show for at least 18 years. Here's a list of possible destinations should Roker decide to leave "Today":
- CNN - "New Day" needs a spark.......FAST! Roker might be the person that'll be able to provide that spark to an otherwise very bland copycat of "Today". Roker would also be a very trustworthy face to lead CNN's breaking news coverage of various weather disasters which occur every year.
- ABC - It would be tough to pull off because as we saw with Ann Curry, viewers don't like to see anchors pushed off for no reason, but "GMA" could add Roker to it's cast and have him do weather part-time while also contributing weather reports to all of ABC News' other telecasts. Roker's production company could also receive a development deal that puts all of Roker's future projects on various Disney cable networks. The only reason this might not work is because Roker may not want to work at the same place as his wife and because "GMA" may not want to make any changes to it's lineup.
- AccuWeather - AccuWeather is starting it's own 24/7 cable network to compete directly against TWC. The network would become way more valuable to cable operators and TV viewers with a face to lead the network who is well known in America -- Al Roker. The only problem with this potential deal is that AccuWeather is based in State College, PA while Roker would most likely want to stay in NYC where he has family.