TODAY   |  April 05, 2014

Who might replace David Letterman when he retires?

The network CBS has a huge decision to make about a replacement for David Letterman, who is retiring next year. A long list of possible candidates has been lighting up the press and social media, stretching from New York to Hollywood. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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>>> now that david letterman has announced his plans to retire next year, the search is on for his replacement, and it appears there are a lot of options. ron allen has a look at some of the possibilities. ron, good morning.

>> quite a few options, of course, and this is a huge decision, lester, for cbs . the host of the late night show is a very prominent figure. this is one of the most valuable pieces of television real estate. and with david letterman , the issue, of course, is how do you begin to try to replace a television legend? outside david letterman 's " late show ," everybody seems to know best who should be next.

>> i'm going to say conan o'brien.

>> stephen colbert .

>> reporter: what kind of person do you think should be the host?

>> somebody who's different. i think there's a lot of, you know, white guys.

>> ellen degeneres . ellen degeneres .

>> reporter: are you sure?

>> yes. she should come to new york .

>> reporter: the list of possibles is lighting up the press and social media and stretching from new york to hollywood. craig ferguson now follows letterman at 12:30 .

>> great scott!

>> reporter: neil patrick harris is getting a lot of buzz, star of the cbs hit comedy "how i met your mother," which wrapped this week after nine successful years on the network. a wild card to take on jimmy fallon ?

>> for a kind of entertainer that is a little along the fallon lines, singing, dancing, that sort of thing, he's more in that vain.

>> fallon , who just replaced jay leno , has quickly established himself as the guy to beat, especially among young viewers, who advertisers love. with fallon , 39, and jimmy kimmel , 46 on abc, letterman's successor must be prepared to battle beyond tv .

>> viral videos have become a very important part of the late-night landscape for jimmy fallon and jimmy kimmel . that's all part of the game now.

>> at this point, everybody who isn't named jimmy would probably like to be considered as the contender for dave's chair.

>> reporter: back outside dave's show, sounds like a top ten list.

>> i know arsenio hall 's a great entertainer.

>> tina fey or amy poehler would be probably phenomenal.

>> jay leno .

>> reporter: jay leno . you've said that several times.

>> yeah.

>> reporter: why?

>> i don't know, he's good. he's funny.

>> reporter: jon stewart .

>> jon stewart , i think the ship has sailed.

>> stewart will certainly appreciate that. one thing that the tv critics seem to agree on is that cbs will probably make a decision quickly so this thing doesn't drag out too long. letterman said some time in 2015 . his contract, we understand, expires that summer. so, guys, it's --

>> anybody's game.

>> there you go.

>> then there's the battle, of course, what city it will air in, because l.a. wants the show back.

>> i think new york .

>> it is such an iconic theater.

>> it is.

>> it would be hard to move it out of there.

>> true. a lot of moving