Matt Lauer to replace Bob Costas for NBC primetime Olympics coverage
SOCHI -- An eye infection has ended one of sports television's more remarkable streaks.
Bob Costas will not host NBC's Olympic primetime coverage for the first time since 1988, a streak of 157 consecutive primetime appearances on NBC's Olympic coverage between the Summer and Winter Games. The Today show host Matt Lauer will fill in for Costas.
"It was becoming increasingly noticeable and uncomfortable, but if it was just that, I would have continued," Costas said. "We in broadcasting are lucky to have the jobs we do, and at one time or another, we've all gone on the air feeling less than our best. The difference is that last night and into this morning, it got to the point where, as a practical matter, I simply couldn't do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.
"If it was just discomfort, I'd be there. I'm receiving excellent treatment...it's a viral infection, and all you can do is try to manage the symptoms while the virus runs its course. But I'm hopeful that those symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast."
An NBC spokesperson described the staffing situation as "day to day."
The Tuesday primetime show will be the first time since CBS aired the Nagano Games in 1998 that someone other than Costas will host an Olympic primetime show. It's also the first time in 26 years that someone other than Costas will host the Olympic primetime show on NBC.
Costas alerted viewers to his eye condition early in the games and eschewed contact lens for glasses while on the air in Sochi. He has had the infection treated with antibiotics but has been in discomfort since last week.
On Tuesday morning Eastern Time, he called into Today and spoke on the phone with Lauer, who inquired about his colleague. "Well, even worse than when you saw me this morning, Sochi time," Costas said. "So, reluctantly, I was trying to throw a complete game here, but I think we're going to have to go to the bullpen. I don't know if you're aware of this or not, but you're Mariano Rivera, at least tonight."
Said Lauer: "I'm happy to keep his chair warm, although I might Purell it before I sit in it."
Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy discusses the new events in the 2014 Winter Olympics and how these additions to the Games are not only good for TV ratings, but also for the athletes and the fans.