Kotb's new role as the host of the 7-9 a.m. hours of the popular morning show - alongside co-host Savannah Guthrie, weather anchor Al Roker and Orange Room host Carson Daly - began Tuesday morning (Jan. 2).
Kotb, 53, has hosted the "Kathie Lee & Hoda" segment of the "Today" show alongside Kathie Lee Gifford since 2008, and will continue to host that fourth-hour program in addition to her new gig.
The pairing of two women is a departure from the typical man-and-woman morning show format.
"There's no one I'd rather be sitting next to in 2018 than you", Kotb said. She also hosts "The Hoda Show" on SiriusXM radio.
During Tuesday's early morning broadcast, Guthrie once again expressed her enthusiasm for working with Kotb.More news: Turkey and Russian Federation finalize deal on anti-missile defense system
Kotb said she was pinching herself as the show kicked off its new era.
In this November 29, 2017, photo, Savannah Guthrie, right, and Hoda Kotb appear with the Rockettes during the 85th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in NY. "I think we should send some medics to Alexandria, Virginia, where my mom has likely fainted after hearing the open of that show". She has been one of the show's most valued employees, getting promoted to third co-anchor in March of 2017, making her an obvious choice when NBC News needed an immediate fill-in after Matt Lauer got fired.
Kotb is replacing Lauer, who was the co-anchor of Today for 20 years and was the highest paid person at NBC News at the time of his firing, NPR's David Folkenflik has reported.
Kotb was assigned to host with Guthrie on the morning that Lauer's firing was announced. "They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of Today". The timing is important for NBC, because Today will get a burst of attention next month with the Winter Olympics.
"Weirdly, it doesn't feel like the headline because we've worked together for a long time", Kotb told the publication.