If Matt Lauer Leaves ‘Today,’ Who Will Succeed Him?

By Jordan Chariton 

“Today” is actively building its bench of male hosts in the event Matt Lauer leaves the show at the conclusion of his contract in 2015, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie.

Guthrie’s piece reports on the current NBC personalities—and potential outsiders—who might replace the long tenured anchor if he exits.

Which member of the NBC family could possibly fill Lauer’s shoes? Both Willie Geist, who is the co-host of “Today’s” 9amET hour, and “Meet The Press” moderator David Gregorycould be in the running. Both of their Q scores, which measures audience likability toward on-air personalities, are higher than Lauer’s, with Gregory’s standing out highest among the key adult women demo at 18 compared to Geist’s 14.

Other contenders mentioned in the piece—albeit long shots—are Ryan Seacrest and “Today” digital host Carson Daly, with the latter having  “the weakest emotional connection” to female viewers, according to a Q  score executive.

Outside the streets of Rockefeller Plaza, Anderson Cooper is also mentioned as a possibility, but unlikely since he is negotiating a new deal with CNN while also continuing to contribute to “60 Minutes.”

Will Lauer leave? Chairman of NBC Universal News Group, Pat Fili-Krushel, recently told Guthrie, “We hope that he wants to last out at least this contract on the Today show,” adding the show would keep Lauer as long as he wants to stay. But executives aren’t just hoping, they are focused on building up their bench.

Following the THR report, NBC News president Deborah Turness told the New York Post, “As we’ve said many times before, Matt is our guy. He’s key to the show’s success. We are focused on keeping him in the anchor chair for a long time, and that is exactly where you’ll find him.”