Savannah Guthrie to join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira in hosting Rio Olympics opening ceremonies

First look: Michael Phelps discusses his demons in exclusive TODAY interview
First look: Michael Phelps discusses his demons in exclusive TODAY interview

Savannah Guthrie will join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to host the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Summer Olympics on Aug. 5.

Lauer and Vieira have co-hosted the Olympiad pageant many times together, but this is the first time Guthrie will take part. It will be Guthrie's third Olympics overall; her first was the 2012 London Summer Olympics, which came less than two months after she replaced Ann Curry as Lauer's co-host. And being tapped to join Lauer and Vieira, who are known to have an easy chemistry, signals Guthrie has achieved the same rapport with Lauer.

The wildly popular Olympics confer a huge advantage to NBC News, and especially the Today show, which broadcasts from the Olympic venue every two years, giving the morning franchise a ratings boost over the competition. This year, the Summer Games are even more strategic because Today has regained the lead in the critical 25-54 demographic over ABC's GoodMorningAmerica, which has dropped double digits among those viewers most coveted by advertisers. (It's the reason Michael Strahan was tapped to join GMA full-time beginning this fall.)

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"Of course it feels good, and we're so thankful and hopeful," Guthrie told THR, referring to the show's recent ratings advantage after GMA four years ago snapped Today's unprecedented 16-year morning news winning streak.

GMA is still the most-watched morning show.

"It's still really competitive," Guthrie continued. "Nobody's breaking out the champagne bottles. We're all working really hard. To have the ratings validate that, it's just icing on the cake. When I came, that wasn't the case. The Today show had had this big long winning streak, and I wasn't a part of that. So this is a new experience for me."

Asked for her thoughts on Strahan, who come September will join the GMA anchor team, Guthrie notes she does not know him personally but added: "It seems like a really smart choice. People seem to love him. I'm sure he'll be great."

And she said that while the morning TV wars are a popular media topic, "we have to focus on putting three hours of television every day."

Guthrie has emerged as among the most popular faces of NBC News. But she admits that living her life in public, a byproduct of being on morning TV in the social media age, took some getting used to.

"There was a period of adjustment there," she said. "It can be scary to be so vulnerable. I can remember being pregnant and a woman on the Plaza said, 'I'm so happy for you, I felt like it happened to my sister.' The warmth that people have, it's simultaneously exciting and terrifying."

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