30 March 2014

Josh Elliott is leaving Good Morning America for NBC Sports

(Getty Images)
For the second time in the last few months, a key face of the top-ranked morning show is headed to an NBCUniversal subsidiary as Josh Elliott, the news anchor for Good Morning America, is headed to NBC Sports. Elliott joined the ABC morning program three years ago this month and was part of the crew that took down NBC's Today for the first time in 16 years in April 2012. Elliott joined GMA from ESPN where he co-anchored the morning live edition of SportsCenter alongside Hannah Storm. Elliott had been involved in extensive contract negotiations with ABC News where he was reported to be looking for $10 million while ABC was not looking to go any higher than five.

So what should we expect to see from Elliott at his new home?

We should hear from NBC Sports this week as to what Elliott's role will entail but it has been indicated that he will have roles across the top NBC Sports platforms including Sunday Night Football, the Triple Crown, and the Olympics.

You know who also is seen across all those platforms? Yes, the one and only Bob Costas. You can bet that NBC is positioning Elliott as the heir apparent to Costas as the face of NBC Sports, or at the very least .

It is a move that makes sense on multiple levels. We saw Costas have his infamous eye infection that led to him being off the primetime Sochi coverage for multiple nights and we saw that NBC did not have a clear next in line as Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera were utilized in his place. NBC's Mark Lazarus talked to Richard Deitsch about looking forward to an Olympics sans Costas and how his affiliction seemingly accelerated those talks.

Not to mention that NBC really did not have a next in line beyond Costas. Al Michaels was not an option as he turns 70 this September. Dan Patrick also was not an option as he turns 58 in May. Beyond those two, you take a step down in stature to a guy like Liam McHugh, a guy who I like a lot and think has a very bright future, but I do not think considered him to be the next face of the franchise as his presence was mostly on the NHL, college football, and the Olympics where he was not given as big of assignments as Michaels and Patrick.

Now NBC has that guy in the 42-year-old (he turns 43 in June). I was not sure how Elliott would do as he shifted from sports to news but I think he has been excellent and it appeared that the executives at ABC News, namely Ben Sherwood, felt the same. He has the gravitas in my opinion to handle an assignment like the Olympics, and to take the place of the guy who has developed into the master of the sort in Costas. His profile has been rising over the past few years and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

But of course while I think highly of Elliott, it would be silly to ignore that NBC was even more motivated to make this acquisition in order to potentially weaken GMA for the benefit of Today. Just like how the Weather Channel poached a talented and likable personality in Champion, a move that would double as a chance to weaken GMA as well. I don't think Elliott was nabbed solely for that reason, however, but it is almost like the cherry on top.

And speaking of Today, could Elliott also potentially be the heir apparent to Lauer? He has a non-compete clause which prevents him from co-anchoring Today for six months but similarly to the situation with Costas, NBC does not seem to have an heir apparent in place even as you hear rumors around third hour co-host Willie Geist, who is excellent, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory or Carson Daly, who was added as the show's social media guy with the studio redesign in September.

When you bring in a guy like Elliott, you are going to have options and boy does NBC has the potential to do some big things with him in the future.

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