After months of speculation over Josh Elliott’s future at ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” contract talks broke down over the weekend and he will leave his anchor spot for a gig with NBC Sports. Amy Robach will be promoted to news anchor, effective immediately.
“As many of you know, we have been negotiating with Josh these past several months. In good faith, we worked hard to close a significant gap between our generous offer and his expectations. In the end, Josh felt he deserved a different deal and so he chose a new path,” said ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who was just recently named Anne Sweeney’s ABC-Disney successor.
Elliott informed GMA on Sunday that he would be leaving for NBC Sports. In his new role at NBC, Elliott will be covering the NFL, Summer and Winter Olympics, Horse Racing and “other high profile sports properties,” an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
During intense contract negotiations over the last few months, Elliott was seeking a salary increase to $8 million a year, up from his estimated $1.2 million a year. GMA counter-offered Elliott with a new deal proposing salary of roughly $4 million to $5 million a year, according to insiders.
Elliott joined GMA in 2011, after jumping ship from ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” He replaced the show’s previous news anchor JuJu Chang, who left to become a special correspondent and fill-in anchor on ABC News’ “Nightline.” Both ESPN and ABC are owned by Disney. On Thursday, it was announced that Chang had been promoted to co-anchor of “Nightline” and would replace Cynthia McFadden, who is also exiting ABC News for NBC.
Elliott is the second big name to leave GMA in a matter of months. As TheWrap previously reported, the show’s weather anchor Sam Champion announced in December that he was leaving ABC News for the Weather Channel.
Champion’s new Weather Channel show “AMHQ” premiered on Mar. 18, however, the program has so far received a chilly reception from viewers.
One person who won’t be leaving GMA anytime soon — Lara Spencer. Last week she inked a new long-term deal with the morning show, calling the re-up a “simple decision.”
“You know you’re in the right job when getting up at 4 a.m. is a joy,” Spencer, who’s been the show’s lifestyle anchor since 2011, said.
Spencer’s contract renewal comes on the heels of a new agreement that will also keep Robin Roberts on “GMA.”
“Good Morning America” has made great strides in the past year, breaking the long-standing ratings stranglehold that its NBC competitor, “Today,” has held, recently winning its first full season in 20 years.
ABC News chief Ben Sherwood sent out the following memo to staff on Sunday about Elliott’s departure from the network:
I want to share some news about GMA.
I’m excited to let you know that we have promoted Amy Robach to News Anchor on Good Morning America effective immediately. Amy is a world class anchor and correspondent who is beloved by our morning audience and all who know her.
Amy has become a familiar face on GMA, filling in for Robin Roberts for many of the 174 days that Robin spent recovering from her bone marrow transplant. Amy brought us moving interviews with the families of the Newtown shooting victims and she delivered a riveting report from inside the world of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. Showing her lighter side, Amy covered the birth of Prince George from London and brought us inside Downton Abbey.
Amy began her career as a general assignment reporter in South Carolina and moved on to become a morning anchor in Washington DC where she covered 9/11 from the Pentagon. Amy is a gifted interviewer, sitting down with world leaders including Barack Obama, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prince Harry. She spent five years at NBC where she was an anchor at MSNBC and co-host of Weekend Today.
We always knew that Amy was special and we have all been especially inspired to watch her battle breast cancer with grace and determination. Indeed, she thrilled us with two weeks of memorable dispatches from Sochi anchoring our Olympic coverage — all between chemo treatments. Amy will be a fierce and formidable full-time addition to our GMA team.
At the same time, Josh Elliott let us know today that he is going to NBC Sports.
As many of you know, we have been negotiating with Josh these past several months. In good faith, we worked hard to close a significant gap between our generous offer and his expectations. In the end, Josh felt he deserved a different deal and so he chose a new path.
I want to thank Josh for his many contributions to GMA and ABC News. Later in the week, we will bid him farewell.
With Robin, George, Lara, Ginger and Amy, GMA’s best days are ahead. Just this month the broadcast enjoyed its biggest audience ever. In the days ahead, there will be more good news on the show, so stay tuned. As we make this transition, we must keep our attention laser-focused on the most important goal – serving our loyal viewers each and every day with a big picture understanding of the world.