(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - Matt Lauer has confirmed reports that he's staying on NBC's "Today" show.
Lauer has signed a long-term contract to remain as co-host of the top-ranked morning show, a long-anticipated deal that NBC announced Thursday night but Lauer made public on "Today" Friday morning.
"This is my family," he said on the air as the "Today" crew and co-anchors burst into applause.
"Truth be told," he joked, "I was developing an idea for a new show, where viewers could tune in every morning and see someone they know lose a little more of his hair every single day right in front of their eyes. But then I thought, I could just stay here and do that."
Lauer has been a fixture with the show since 1994, and "Today" has remained No. 1 in the weekly ratings since 1995. He's created a popular "Today" catchphrase with his globe-hopping "Where in the world is Matt Lauer?" segments.
His decision provides important stability for "Today" and puts to rest suggestions that he might reunite with his former co-host, Katie Couric, on the syndicated show she's launching this fall. Lauer said last May that he had discussed joining with Couric on a new venture. But he predicted then that he would be staying at "Today" for "a long time."
A recent report said Lauer could end up with a $25 million deal, but NBC President Steve Capus dismissed the speculation as "complete silliness," the New York Times said. NBC declined to provide further details Thursday on the contract.
There had been some reports that "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest could replace Lauer, and the two bantered about it Wednesday when Seacrest visited "Today" to announce hein NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics.
"What kind of conversations have you had with NBC officials about joining the 'Today' show?" Lauer asked Seacrest during a lighthearted exchange.
"Oh," said Seacrest, grinning, as off-camera laughter was heard from the crew. "They didn't tell you?"