Karl Stefanovic Leaving Today Show After 14 Years, Admits "Tough Time"

The Today Show host thanked fans for "hanging in there".

By Winsome Walker Dec 20, 2018 1:08 AMTags
Karl Stefanovic Don Arnold/WireImage

Karl Stefanovic will not be returning to the Today Show in 2019.

The 44-year-old host confirmed his exit in a statement on Dec. 19 and thanked viewers for "hanging in there".

"For the last 14 years I've co-hosted the best show on television. I can't thank Nine enough for the opportunity. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be good enough to host this grand show for so long," Stefanovic said. "Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most. It's been a tough time."

The Melbourne-based host, who is currently on honeymoon with his wife, Jasmine Yarbrough, added: "Thanks for hanging in there. I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great Network soon."

Stefanovic's departure follows Today's dramatic ratings decline (September 2018 marked the show's lowest ratings in 12 years), plus the public breakdown of his marriage of 21 years to journalist Cassandra Thorburn in 2017. In December 2018, he married 34-year-old shoe designer Yarbrough at a lavish ceremony in San José del Cabo, Mexico.

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Taking to Instagram on Wednesday, Stefanovic's former Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson (who left the program in October 2017) paid tribute to the father-of-three.

"Wishing @karlstefanovic_ all the best," The Project host shared along with throwback pics. "Because when it was good, it was great... @thetodayshow."

Meanwhile, Today entertainment editor Richard Wilkins praised Stefanovic as a "fantastic, intuitive and intelligent journalist" during the show's Dec. 20 broadcast.

"Karl Stefanovic has been a co-host of this great show for 14 years and I've had the honour and pleasure, and pressure, sometimes of working alongside him almost every day over that time, and I can tell you from the heart that there is nobody who has worked harder for this show than Karl," Wilkins said. "There is no secret that the past year or so has been difficult times for Karl but I can say he has walked into the studio every morning with energy and passion bringing ideas to make the show bigger and better."

Stefanovic joined Today in 2005 and went on to win a Gold Logie in 2011.

Nine's Director of News and Current Affairs Darren Wick said the TV star "remains on contract with the network" and will continue hosting reality program This Time Next Year in 2019.

"Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today Show," Wick said. "An announcement on the new line up and format of the Today Show will be made in the coming weeks."

Karl is not the only Stefanovic to leave Nine this week. On Dec. 19, his younger brother Peter Stefanovic (and husband of Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys) announced he would not continue as Weekend Today host after 15 years at the network. Today's executive producer Mark Calvert also stepped down from his position this month.

As for Jeffrey's role, Nine has assured fans she is remaining with the network, although speculation is mounting she may depart Today for a prime-time gig.

And while the Today lineup is still yet to be publicly finalised, Brenton Ragless—who is currently filling in while Karl is away—is tipped to become the new permanent co-host.

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