'The New York Times'reports that both NBC and CBS held unsuccessful talks with Couric, who remains a hot property despite disappointing ratings during her tenure at 'The CBS Evening News.'
Rumors that she was close to a deal with ABChave been swirling for weeks, and according to the 'Times' the clincher was when ABC President Anne Sweeney sweetened the deal with the promise of a role in the news division.
For her part, Couric says she is happy with the end result of the protracted negotiations: "It is very gratifying that so many people were willing to meet with me and were interested," she said. "It made me think maybe a show like this could do reasonably well. We'll see."
Talks with rival networks apparently stalled for a variety of reasons. NBC execs were reportedly okay with Couric's choice of producing partner -- ousted NBC chief Jeff Zucker -- but did think that her camp was making "excessive demands," including an insistence that NBC stations agree to air an hour-long Couric show at 4PM, which is prime real estate in daytime.
Plus, the 'Times' reports that NBC executives had never made an offer to Ms. Couric (a point her side acknowledged) and emphasized privately that their internal research showed her to be too unpopular with viewers. Meanwhile, for their part, Couric's team felt that NBC had too little experience in the syndication business.
The CBS talks apparently ran aground because the network wanted Couric to focus on the syndicated show, not an ongoing role in the news division. Earlier reports said that CBS was offering Couric a new package including both a daytime talk show and a prestigious regular slot on Sunday night news magazine, '60 Minutes' -- said to be one of her longterm ambitions -- but that opportunity would have ended once the daytime show started.
After conducting extensive market research of their own, Couric and her team have settled on a simple formula for success for her new show, which is due to launch in 2012: If the show is good, people will watch it.