Ann Curry tearfully steps down from 'Today'

Ann Curry. (Reuters)

Ann Curry. (Reuters)

NEW YORK - In an emotional farewell, Ann Curry said on Thursday she was leaving as co-host of NBC's "Today" show in an announcement that follows the early morning program's recent ratings slump.

Choking back tears, Curry told viewers at the end of Thursday's program she would be leaving the show and taking up a new role reporting from around the world for NBC. "For all of you who saw me as a ground breaker, I am sorry I could not carry the ball across the finish line. But man, I did try," she told viewers in a reluctant farewell surrounded by co-hosts including Matt Lauer.

Curry's departure from the early morning mainstay has been widely expected as she came under sharp scrutiny for the program's ratings decline. The show did not announce who would replace her. Since Curry moved from news reader to co-host on June 9, 2011, the morning show's margin over ABC's "Good Morning America", or GMA, has steadily shrunk.

With Meredith Vieira sitting next to Lauer, the show regularly beat "GMA," and led by 650,000 viewers the week before Curry replaced her, according to Nielsen numbers supplied by media planning and advertising agency Horizon Media.

GMA drew more viewers in four of the 10 weeks before June 11, 2011, among those who watched it live or recorded the same day. Curry had $10 million remaining on her four-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of her agreement.