Today show tension: Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo rocked by 'pay gap' scandal

It comes after claims there’s a whopping $700,000 pay gap between hosts Karl and Sarah.

While things on the Today show might appear perfect to an outside viewer, new reports have claimed there’s tension brewing behind the scenes of one of Australia’s most-loved morning TV shows.

It’s all reported to have come to a head last week, when The Australian published an article claiming there’s a whopping $700,000 pay gap between hosts Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo.

The publication threw open the lid on what Nine’s most popular stars are earning, with 48-year-old Karl reported to be on a whopping $1.5 million per year, while his co-host, Sarah Abo reportedly rakes in approximately $800,000.

 Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo on the Today show couch
Reports are brewing of tension between Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo. Photo: Channel 9

Now, an industry insider has claimed the revelation has caused tension at Nine, telling New Idea it’s ‘anxiety-inducing to say the least’.

“Yes, Sarah is new to breakfast television, but she is not new to Nine,” a network insider told the publication.

“Some are wondering why she isn’t being more equally matched [with Karl]."


Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon in a promo shot for the Today show
Sarah took over from Ally Langdon in 2022 as the host of the Today show. Photo: Channel 9

It comes after Woman’s Day reported the pair were feeling the pressure after ratings showed they’ve failed to catch up with Seven’s Sunrise.

"You can definitely tell they're feeling it. Their banter isn't as seamless as it was,” a source told the publication.

Sarah Abo joined the Today show in 2022, taking over from Allison Langdon, who left to host A Current Affair.

A former 60 Minutes reporter, Sarah joined Channel Nine in 2019 before taking over the highly coveted Today presenting role.

“The 3am alarm will be an adjustment, but I’m looking forward to keeping Karl on his toes,” Sarah said in a statement at the time.

The scandal that tore the Today show apart

It’s not the first time Karl Stefanovic has been caught up in a pay gap scandal.

His former co-host, Lisa Wilkinson, claimed in her autobiography, It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This, that she had been axed from Nine after demanding a salary increase.

Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson reporting from the red carpet
Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic have previously been embroiled in a pay gap scandal. Photo: Getty Images

"I wasn't even asking for Karl's pay, I was just asking for a slightly fairer share of the spoils that had come from the Today show's increasingly profitable position in the hugely lucrative breakfast TV market – even more so now that we were at No. 1,” she wrote.

"We were a show turning over $60million a year, with well over half of that in profit. But it was the massive gap between Karl and me that was at issue.

"By staying quiet, I would be complicit in perpetuating the gender pay gap for every woman who came after me."

Lisa Wilkinson left the Today show in 2017. Nine Network's former CEO, Hugh Marks, told The Daily Telegraph at the time that Lisa was offered a $1.8 million salary package, but wanted $2.3 million, which would have taken her over Karl's salary of $2 million.

However, Lisa hit back during an interview with ABC's Radio National host Fran Kelly, saying: "I didn’t ask for salary parity, ever. I asked for a fairer share of the spoils that were coming to a show that Karl and I had taken to number one."

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