NBC will focus on finding a successor to "Today" co-host Matt Lauer over the next two years, even though NBC News Group Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel recently said she wants to keep Lauer "as long as he wants to stay," according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie.
"The botched June 2012 changeover from Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie might have torpedoed NBC News’ reputation as the outlet of the deftly executed handoff, but it also has made NBCUniversal executives including CEO Steve Burke and News Group Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel determined to make the next one smooth and painless," Guthrie writes.
Willie Geist, who joined "Today" more than a year ago, and "Meet the Press" host David Gregory are "the obvious in-house candidates to succeed Lauer, should he leave," the story says.
Q Scores reveal that both Geist and Gregory have higher positive ratings than Lauer. Gregory’s stands at 18 among adult women, compared with 14 for Geist. Lauer’s score this year dropped to a positive Q Score of 7.
Another contender is CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, while the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest, who was the subject of considerable speculation about the anchor position last year, is said to be a long shot.
Also listed by Guthrie as a long shot — albeit a high-profile one — is Carson Daly, who became digital host and social media correspondent for "Today" back in September. Guthrie notes: "Among Lauer’s morning-news colleagues, Daly is the most polarizing and has ‘the weakest emotional connection’ to female viewers, notes Q Scores executive VP Henry Schafer."
Guthrie adds, "For NBC News, the stakes could not be higher. In 2012, ‘Today’ generated $515 million in ad revenue for the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. hours, according to Kantar Media, the biggest moneymaker in the NBC News portfolio. But ‘Good Morning America’s’ ratings — in September, ‘GMA’ marked a full season as the No. 1 morning program among total viewers and the 25-to-54 demo — spurred a shift in upfront dollars from ‘Today’ to ‘GMA,’ say buyers."