Amid growing rumors, a spokesperson says that a decision on whether to expand the early-morning leader will come early next year.
“There is a strong possibility” that NBC News will expand the The Today Show by adding a fourth hour, NBC News spokesperson Megan Kopf told TVNewsCheck today.
A decision on the long-rumored move will come early next year, Kopf said, declining further comment.
Variety first reported that NBC was looking at expanding the early-morning ratings leader last August. But the network knocked down the report in B&C.
The New York Post reported last week that Billy Bush was auditioning to host the extra hour and broadcasters and station reps told TVNewsCheck this week that they believed it was a done deal.
One NBC affiliate said the hour would be added next September at the start of the 2007-08 TV season and that the move would be coupled with the cancellation of Passions, NBC’s low-rated afternoon soap opera so that affiliates would lose an hour in the morning, but gain one in the early afternoon.
The industry sources say the fourth hour was prompted by the inability of NBC Universal to come up with strong syndicated programming in daytime for the NBC O&Os. They said that the expected cancellation of first-year talk show Megan Mullally will punch a hole in the stations’ daytime schedules that will need to be filled.
For many years, Today ran two hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET. It expanded to three hours in October 2000 after a companion one-hour program, Later Today, flopped in the 9 o’clock hour.