|Presented by||Veronica De La Cruz
Bill Karins (weather)
Fred Roggin (sports)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location(s)||Studio 3K, NBC Studios
New York City, New York
|Running time||approx. 23 minutes|
|Picture format||480i (4:3 SDTV) (1999-2009)
1080i (16:9 HDTV) (2009-present)
|Original run||September 9, 1999 – present|
|Preceded by||NBC News at Sunrise|
|Related shows||First Look
Early Today is an American early morning television news program airing on NBC. The program features general national and international news stories, financial and entertainment news, off-beat stories, weather forecasts, and sports highlights. It is anchored by Richard Lui for the Pacific and Mountain time zone editions, and Betty Nguyen, Frances Rivera, or Veronica De La Cruz for the Eastern and Central time zone editions. It is the only early morning network newscast on any of the Big Three television networks that is not produced jointly with an overnight news program (NBC has not aired an overnight newscast since the 1998 cancellation of NBC Nightside, which aired alongside Early Today during the latter program's first few months).
The program is broadcast live at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time (airing in the early timeslot to accommodate NBC stations that start their local morning newscasts at 4:30 a.m.), and is transmitted in a continuous half-hour tape delayed loop until 10:00 a.m. ET, when Today begins in the Pacific Time Zone.
The program usually airs as a lead-in to local morning newscasts on most NBC stations, although in the few markets where the NBC station does not produce a morning newscast, it may air in a two- to three-hour loop immediately before the start of Today. The show is updated for any breaking news occurring before 7:00 a.m. ET, while stations throughout the network will join Today in all time zones past that time at their local discretion or network orders for live coverage. Early Today is traditionally preempted during the Summer and Winter Olympic Games due to overnight replays of NBC's primetime Olympic event coverage.
Early Today premiered on September 9, 1999 as the replacement for NBC News at Sunrise, which NBC decided to cancel in April 1999 as part of a major shakeup of the network's daytime and early morning schedules (these changes included the launch of another Today-branded program, the short-lived talk show Later Today, as well as the cancellation of the long-running soap opera Another World). The Early Today name had previously been used for another early morning news program produced by NBC News from 1982 to 1983, which featured the hosts of NBC's Today at the time – Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, and Willard Scott. This program was replaced in 1983 by NBC News at Sunrise.
Originally produced through the former Fort Lee, New Jersey facilities of NBC's financial news cable network, CNBC, and focusing on business and financial news (including a modified version of the CNBC Ticker showing stock prices and weather forecasts), the show switched to a general news format in 2004. As part of this change, the show's production was relocated to the Secaucus headquarters of MSNBC. Concurrently, former Saturday Today anchor Amy Robach replaced the program's original anchor Nanette Hansen.
MSNBC's First Look, which airs one hour after the initial 4:00 a.m. broadcast of Early Today at 5:00 a.m. ET, is a repurposed version of the network newscast with the same anchors, weathercasters, and segments (the sportscast, formerly anchored by either Fred Roggin or Mario Solis of NBC's Los Angeles owned-and-operated station KNBC and recorded after that station's 11 p.m. Pacific Time newscast for later airing and to account for most West Coast sports results, was aired unchanged on both programs). Some segments seen on Early Today are excluded from First Look, mainly the local weather cut-in (which does not appear at all on many NBC stations that broadcast Early Today) and a local event call-out featuring a promotion for a city's NBC affiliate, while a small number of stories seen on Early Today may not be seen on First Look.
Some NBC affiliates do not air the entire program, and a purposeful sign-off is made by the show's anchor at the 24-minute mark in order to allow stations to air an early weather segment or start their morning newscast early, while NBC carries a non-essential human interest or light news story to end the telecast for stations that carry the entire program.
In September 2007, the program, like the rest of MSNBC's operations, moved from its former Secaucus, New Jersey headquarters to the network's combined news headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the New York City borough of Manhattan, with MSNBC, in October 2007. MSNBC's master control facilities were relocated to the CNBC Headquarters at the NBC Universal Network Organization Center in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Until a revamp of the set used for both programs in 2011, the anchor background on Early Today was a video screen of a sunrise scene; a skycam shot of Manhattan was used for First Look. On June 29, 2009, concurrent with the launch of MSNBC's high definition simulcast feed, Early Today became the first early morning network newscast to begin broadcasting in high definition.
The program had aired live at 4:30 a.m. ET until March 1, 2010, when the initial broadcast of the show was moved to 4:00 a.m. ET to allow stations in the Eastern Time Zone to begin their morning newscasts at 4:30 a.m. with an Early Today lead-out; previously without the new schedule in some cases, the NBC All Night repeat of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon would inexplicably lead into local news with five minutes cut off the former program if the default NBC schedule, in addition to one local half-hour program, was followed by an affiliate in the overnight hours. There is also a live version of the program for Pacific Time Zone stations to allow local affiliates to air their newscasts at 4:30 a.m., although the weather segments focus on the West Coast region for its viewers (an example of such is San Francisco NBC O&O KNTV, which has aired its newscasts at 4:30 a.m. since late 2008).
Early Today is the only American early morning network newscast with both a meteorologist and a sports anchor on staff, anchors of the CBS Morning News and ABC's America This Morning act as weather presenters and the former newscast's anchor also acts as the sports presenter. Veronica De La Cruz and Betty Nguyen anchor the east coast edition. Richard Lui anchors the west coast editions. Frances Rivera is a fill-in anchor. NBC meteorologist Bill Karins delivers the national and regional weather forecast; The Weather Channel, which is part-owned by NBC's corporate parent NBCUniversal, brands its weather forecasts used on the program.
Former on-air staff
- Nanette Hansen (1999–2004)
- Natalie Morales (2004; now with Today)
- Amy Robach (2004; now with ABC News)
- Contessa Brewer (2004–2005; currently fill-in anchor at WNBC in New York City)
- Kristine Johnson (2005–2006; currently main anchor at WCBS-TV in New York City)
- Bill Fitzgerald (2006–2007)
- Milissa Rehberger (various quarters)
- Dan Kloeffler (2007–2009, now with ABC News)
- Christina Brown (2007–2010)
- Lynn Berry (2010–2012)
- Mara Schiavocampo (2012–2013, now with ABC News)
- Joe Witte (1999–2003; now at NewsChannel 8 in Washington, DC)
- John Elliott (2004; now at WCBS-TV in New York City)
- Sean McLaughlin (2004–2005; now at KPHO in Phoenix)
- Rosey Edeh (2004–2005; now reporter for ET Canada)
- Elise Finch (2006; now at WCBS-TV in New York City)
- Byron Miranda (2007)
- Todd Santos (2008; formerly with The Weather Channel)
- Business anchor
- Louisa Bojesen (1999–2008)
MSNBC and NBC News programming is shown for several hours a day on the 24-hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. This includes Early Today and several other shows.
- America This Morning – a similar early morning news program on ABC
- CBS Morning News – a similar early morning news program on CBS