A tearful Ann Curry said goodbye after one year as co-host of NBC's "Today" show Thursday, saying "this is not as I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years."
She announced her departure at the end of her two-hour shift, ending a week of awkward television when she continued working after word spread that NBC was looking to oust her.
The popular morning show is facing its biggest challenge in the ratings from ABC's resurgent "Good Morning America" since the mid-1990s.
"For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line but, man, I did try," she said, breaking down.
Curry started as the show's news anchor in 1997, and was promoted last June following Meredith Vieira's exit. But things never really clicked with co-host Matt Lauer. "Today" hadn't lost a week in the ratings since 1996 but this spring lost four times.
Curry said she's being given a "fancy new title" and will lead a reporting team. NBC said she will be anchor-at-large and national and international correspondent.
"You made NBC better and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," Lauer said.
He sat next to Curry on a couch as she made the announcement, joined by a somber Al Roker and Natalie Morales.
NBC's Savannah Guthrie is expected to replace Curry.
Curry was Lauer's third co-host, following Vieira and Katie Couric, who preceded Lauer on the show and left in 2006 after 15 years to anchor CBS's evening news program.
The "Today" show is considered a huge profit center for NBC. Last year, it generated $848 million in advertising revenue for the company, making it one of the most profitable shows on television, according to Horizon Media. "Good Morning America" generated about $298 million.
Curry had succeeded Lauer as the early morning show's news anchor in 1997, when Lauer moved on to replace Bryant Gumbel as co-host.
NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC, CNBC and CNBC.com.