NBC's Today ratings rise after Matt Lauer's exit

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"Today" has always been the top-rated show among viewers ages 25 to 54, the audience advertisers seek when they buy commercials on news programs. Today averaged 4.9 million viewers, up 14 percent from its average this season, and also climbed to 1.7 million in the 25-54 news demographic.

NBC has not set a public timeline to find a replacement for Lauer.

"Today" for the first time in many weeks was the nation's most-watched morning news program, defeating its main rival, ABC's "Good Morning America", by more than 539,000 viewers for the five days ending December 1, or 12.4 percent. Other women have since reported incidents with Lauer, including one who accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2001. "To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry", Lauer said after being silent on the matter on Wednesday.

Lauer apologized in a statement Thursday, but said that some of the accusations are "untrue".

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While the scandal has rocked the Today family to its core, it appears Lauer's departure from the morning news program has resulted in higher ratings.

But "Today" won more viewers than "GMA" on the Monday and Tuesday broadcasts prior to the eruption of interest surrounding the Lauer news, according to data from Nielsen. "Today" beat "GMA" every day of the week for the first time since December 2016.

Craig Melvin is reportedly being considered to replace Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.

The desire to maintain stability on "Today", which generates almost $500 million a year in ad revenue for NBC, is a key reason the network kept giving contracts to Lauer that paid him more than $20 million annually. Viewers were first to see troubled reactions to the news by Lauer's longtime colleagues Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker. Melvin might be a bit of an unknown quantity to the non-MSNBC viewership, but as Entertainment Tonight reports, he's incredibly qualified and seems to be a good fit with the rest of the Today show's affable and competent team.

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