NBC seems poised to hire Meredith Viera of ABC to replace Couric in the mornings, according to the New York Times.
As its co-anchor, Couric helped bring the NBC morning program to its current 10-year run of ratings dominance. "Today" is the network's most profitable news program by leaps and bounds — making more than $250 million a year, the Times reports.
Couric will likely remain at NBC News through May 31 – the end of her contract – according to most published reports. But NBC is gearing up for changes ahead.
"The 'Today' show is the crown jewel of morning news, with an unprecedented run of 10-plus years of dominance," NBC News President Steve Capus, said in an e-mail to the New York Times. "If the day comes that we are faced with a change, we will operate from a position of strength. We are blessed to have such a strong platform, and an exceptional group of players as possibilities."
Among those players, three names have emerged as the most likely potential Couric replacements. They include: Vieira, co-host of ABC's "The View," NBC's White House reporter Campbell Brown, who also co-hosts "Weekend Today," and NBC News correspondent Natalie Morales.
According to a Washington Post report, Vieira, who is also host of the syndicated "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," has already been offered the job of replacing Couric and is seriously considering it. Vieira, 52, is also a former "60 Minutes" correspondent.
However, it's far from a done deal. Vieira has reportedly turned down other morning-show offers in the past. And the Washington Post says she enjoys the two programs she hosts now and is concerned about the effect of a more demanding schedule on her husband, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Vieira's agent, Michael Glantz, told the Washington Post yesterday: "Probably no one in this business is more qualified. Meredith is certainly flattered to be the subject of all this attention and certainly would have to consider all possibilities."
Meanwhile, as Vieira weighs the reported offer, both Brown and Morales alternated filling in for Couric on "Today" when she was on vacation last week. Last Thursday with Morales substituting, "Today" beat "Good Morning America" by 1.5 million viewers, according to the Times.