Lester Holt signs four year deal with NBC, gains managing editor title

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NBC’s Lester Holt has signed a four-year contract to remain at the network in the “NBC Nightly News” anchor chair — and got a bit of a promotion.

In addition to securing his job for the next four years, Holt also was given the title of managing editor of “Nightly,” which gives him significantly more control over the editorial content of the broadcast.

When Holt took over in 2015 after the Brian Williams scandal, he did not get the managing editor title. Some insiders said that was because NBC was leery of how Williams’ holding that title could have led to the whole scandal to begin with.

The new deal will keep Holt on the network’s signature evening newscast through at least 2025, which notably includes the 2024 elections.

It’s notable that NBC signed him to four years, especially given recent speculation that former ABC anchor and correspondent Tom Llamas may have been brought on board to succeed Holt at the end of his previous deal.

Llamas was hired as senior national correspondent and also anchors a primetime newscast on the network’s streaming service NBC News Now, but insiders speculate he may have been lured over with the possibility of a more prominent role down the road.

At ABC, Llamas anchored “World News Tonight” on weekends and was one of David Muir’s primary fill-ins, but with the broadcast growing to number one, it seems unlikely that ABC would tinker with the show and replace Muir anytime soon — unless his numbers start to fall.

Because of that, Llamas may have felt there were little further opportunities for him at ABC and hence jumped ship.

If NBC plans to turn over “Nightly” to Llamas, it now appears likely he will have to wait at least four more years.

Meanwhile, NBC has been making sure Llamas shows up regularly on “Today” and filling in for Holt on “Nightly.” This could be part of a long term strategy to get viewers familiar with him on the network before he moves into a higher role when Holt decides to retire after his new deal, though none of that has been confirmed.

Although it’s common for the network anchors to have the managing editor title, it’s also not uncommon for them not to. For example, Peter Jennings was only titled as “senior editor” during his time at ABC. Jeff Glor also did not get the title while anchoring “CBS Evening News.”

Insiders say that Holt getting the managing editor title could have been seen as a way to, at least on paper, make his role at the network more solid.