The two-and-a-half hour programme, designed to compete with TVNZ's Breakfast, first went to air on 7 March 2011. It was hosted by Rachel Smalley until mid-2013, after which the host's seat rotated amongst other 3 News presenters. From January 2014, Sacha McNeil and Michael Wilson present the show. Sports news is presented by Sam Ackerman.Firstline features regular technology segments including Tech Bytes on Thursdays, and commentary by Steve Simms, Paul Spain or Ben Gracewood on Mondays.
Unlike most other morning news services, Firstline is solely a news show and does not include magazine or lifestyle segments, instead choosing to focus on recent current events, with reports from 3 News reporters and live or pre-recorded interviews.