|Pop quiz a la "Jeopardy": Despite driving away morning viewers from NBC's "Today," he's in the running to host one of the most durable quiz shows on TV.
If you answered, "Who is Matt Lauer?" you'd be right.
Lauer is at the top of the list to take over the show from host Alex Trebek, who has emceed "Jeopardy" since the current version returned to the airwaves in 1984, reports the New York Post.
Its fans are already bristling at the idea, with some on Twitter writing that they would be "done watching" if Lauer takes over the venerable quiz show.
Unfortunately for those fans, Trebek is expected to end his run in 2016, when his contract expires. It's not hard to blame him. After all, he's 72, and he suffered a second heart attack last year. He has hinted that retirement might be in the cards, telling Fox News last year that he had been thinking about stepping down from the show.
But messing with an iconic game show carries risks, even if the new host is beloved by TV fans. Lauer, however, is increasingly falling out of that category and would represent a huge gamble for producer Sony Pictures Television, a division of Sony (SNE).
Ratings at "Today" have suffered, with many fans blaming Lauer for former co-host Ann Curry's ouster. He's also criticized for having a huge ego and an even bigger $25 million-a-year deal, which is set to end in 2015.
That has taken a financial bite out of NBC Universal, owned by Comcast (CMCSA), which saw profits on "Today" dip by $50 million last year because of the show's sinking ratings, according to The New York Times. Given that "Jeopardy" surely is a big moneymaker for Sony, that should be a concern for the production company.
Lauer's downward spiral with TV viewers is marked by his plunging Q score, a measure of a celebrity's likability, which has fallen by more than half since Curry joined him as co-host in 2011, The Times notes.
For a while, Sony had thought it would need to convince Lauer to work a double-shift, both in the morning on "Today" and later on the game show, the Post notes. However, Lauer might be available when Trebek ends his run, given his dismal ratings on "Today," the publication notes.
Even though Lauer is at the top of Sony's list, another potential host is in the running. That's CNN personality Anderson Cooper, whose contract with the network is said to end next year, the Post adds.