Matt Lauer is back as Bob Costas‘ fill-in tonight as NBC’s Sochi Olympics primetime anchor, after Meredith Vieira did the subbing two nights and made TV history. NBC Sports still says Costas is “day to day.” Lauer last week pulled double duty for three days, co-anchoring Today from Sochi while also filling in for Costas in primetime. Costas is battling an infection in both eyes. Late last week, Costas told Ryan Seacrest in a radio interview he hoped to be back in the studio over the weekend. That’s not going to happen, which is sure to raise questions as to whether Costas will be able to return to the anchor desk before the Games wrap. Last Friday, NBC’s Olympics EP Jim Bell brushed off press suggestions the network might be ready to “shut down” Costas as its primetime anchor. “Getting into next week, it may become a topic of conversation, but we’re not there,” Bell said Friday.
This morning, NBC Sports was still saying “day to day” in response to questions about Costas’s condition and odds of return. In various interviews last week, Costas said he feels okay but can’t come back to work because of the specific nature of his eye infection — in some reports suggesting studio lighting, and makeup, may have exacerbated his condition.
Costas continues to deal with the effects of the infection that began in his left eye and spread to his right eye in the early days of NBC’s Olympics coverage. He’d soldiered on with the infection in one eye — then two — the first few days of TV coverage before calling Lauer in from the “bullpen” on Tuesday. Back then, Lauer told viewers that night Costas looked like the loser in a prize fight. That anchor swap was historic too, ending Costas’ streak of 157 consecutive appearances as NBC’s Olympics anchor in primetime. It was the first time since 1988 Costas did not host the coverage.
Bell had said Vieira would likely be on subbing duty for two nights as Costas continued to recover from pink eye. It was also great exposure for a TV veteran whose new syndicated daytime talk show is set to launch in the fall. Vieira became the first woman ever to host NBC’s Olympics coverage in primetime.