|Genre||Early-morning news program|
|Presented by||Bill Karins|
(for past anchors, see section)
|Theme music composer||JSM Music (1999–2004)|
Savage & Laporta (2004–2013)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||16|
|Production location(s)||NBC Studios|
New York, New York
|Running time||approx. 23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||NBC News Productions|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||September 9, 1999– present|
|Preceded by||NBC News at Sunrise (1983–1999)|
|Followed by||First Look|
Early Today is an American early morning television news program that is broadcast on NBC. The program features general national and international news stories, financial and entertainment news, off-beat stories, national weather forecasts and sports highlights. As of 2017[update], it is anchored by Frances Rivera and Phillip Mena.
Early Today is the only early morning network newscast on any of the three largest U.S. television networks (NBC, ABC or CBS) 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). However, it uses the same production staff as MSNBC's early-morning newscast Morning Joe First Look.
As of July 31, 2017, the program is broadcast live at 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time (airing in the earlier timeslot to accommodate NBC stations that start their local morning newscasts at 4:00 a.m.), and is transmitted in a continuous half-hour tape delayed loop until 10:00 a.m. Eastern, when Today begins in the Pacific Time Zone. Subsequently on September 11, NBC discontinued same-date reruns of CNBC's Mad Money from its late night schedule in order to accommodate the earlier live broadcast (before that date, Early Today was first broadcast live at 4:00 a.m. ET). As a result, some NBC affiliates that did not choose to fill the time period formerly occupied by the Mad Money replays with syndicated programs or infomercials following the change now air Early Today in the form of two separate editions or as a 90-minute to 2½-hour loop – in which case, the program competes against ABC's World News Now and the CBS Overnight News.
It usually airs as a lead-in to local morning newscasts on most NBC stations, although in the few markets where a morning newscast is not produced by the station, 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. Eastern Time, after which time any live breaking news requiring network-level coverage, at the station's local discretion in each time zone or network orders for live coverage, is under the oversight of Today. Early Today and First Look are traditionally pre-empted during the Summer and Winter Olympic Games to allow the airing of overnight replays of NBC's primetime Olympic event coverage and live coverage on the NBC broadcast network and MSNBC, along with allowing stations to fulfill syndicated programming requirements where a distributor requires their programs to still air in some form with the open slot, albeit during the overnights.
Early Today premiered on September 9, 1999 as a 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 title had previously been used for another early morning news program produced by NBC News from 1982 to 1983 (and was replaced by NBC News at Sunrise following its cancellation), which featured the hosts of NBC's Today at the time – Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel and Willard Scott.
Originally produced from the former Fort Lee, New Jersey facilities of NBC's sister financial news cable network, CNBC, and focusing on business and financial news (including a modified version of the CNBC Ticker that showed stock prices and weather forecasts for select U.S. cities), the program switched to a general news format in 2004. As part of this reformatting, production of the program 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 at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time, is a repurposed version of the network newscast using the same anchors, weathercasters, and segments. Until 2013, the sports segment was produced from the Los Angeles studios of NBC owned-and-operated station KNBC, using either Fred Roggin or Mario Solis as anchors; the segment was recorded after that station's 11:00 p.m. Pacific Time newscast for later airing and to account for most West Coast sports results, but was aired without any differences on both First Look and Early Today (the segment is now conducted live-to-tape during both programs from the newsroom at NBC Studios). 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, showing only a list of forecasts for seven randomly selected U.S. cities) and a local event barker featuring a promotion for an NBC affiliate serving the city where the event is being held (which was dropped from the NBC program in 2013), 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. Since NBC's corporate parent NBCUniversal acquired part-ownership of The Weather Channel in 2008, weather forecasts used on the program incorporate the channel's branding and forecasts, although Early Today uses repurposed graphics systems from the defunct digital multicast weather network NBC Weather Plus, which provided forecasts for the program until it shut down in 2008.
In September 2007, the program, as with the rest of MSNBC's operations, moved from the previous 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.
The program had aired live at 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time until March 1, 2010, when the initial broadcast of the show was moved to 4:00 a.m. Eastern 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).
Further brand integration with Today came in December 2013, when Early Today introduced a new graphics package based on that used by the network's flagship morning show since August of that year, as well as a modified version of that program's "orange sunrise" logo.
Notable on-air staff
Current on-air staff
Early Today is the only American early morning network newscast that features both an on-staff meteorologist and sports anchor; anchors of ABC's America This Morning act as weather presenters, and staff from ABC's sister cable network ESPN present sports. The anchor of the CBS Morning News presents both weather and sports.
- Bill Karins – meteorologist (2007–present)
- Frances Rivera – anchor (2014–2015, 2016–present)
- Phillip Mena – anchor (2017–present)
Former on-air staff
- Nanette Hansen (1999–2004; now working for Sotherby's International Reality in Smithtown, New York)
- Natalie Morales (2004; now with Today)
- Amy Robach (2004; now with ABC News)
- Contessa Brewer (2004–2005; now with CNBC)
- 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; now with HLN)
- Mara Schiavocampo (2012–2013, now with ABC News)
- Veronica De La Cruz (2011–2014, now with KPIX in San Francisco)
- Betty Nguyen (2012–2016)
- Richard Lui – Pacific and Mountain Time anchor (2013–2016)
- Ayman Mohyeldin – Central and Eastern Time co-anchor (2016; now a co-anchor of MSNBC's Morning Joe First Look)
- Joe Witte (1999–2003; was at NewsChannel 8 in Washington, D.C., now at Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, MD)
- Sean McLaughlin (2004–2005; now at KPHO-TV in Phoenix)
- Rosey Edeh (2004–2005; now at Global Television Network/CIII-DT in Toronto as co-host of The Morning Show)
- Elise Finch (2006; now at WCBS-TV in New York City)
- Byron Miranda (2007)
- Business anchor
- America This Morning – a similar early morning news program on ABC
- CBS Morning News – a similar early morning news program on CBS
- The Early Show – Defunct morning news/talk program (1999 to 2012, CBS)