'Today' Could Be Extended Into an Extra Hour

The TODAY Show currently runs for four hours from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET, but according to Variety, that number could eventually extend to five. Two people familiar with the situation say that NBC has considered extending the morning show to five hours on weekdays, a move consistent with those of other broadcast networks giving a bigger spotlight to their news programs.

"We like serving our audience on any given day of the week. There's enough going on to fill 24 hours of television," said Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News, in an interview. When asked when a potential new hour might fit in, he said, "I don’t think it would be earlier" than the current 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. block, though made sure to note that "there are no imminent plans for it."

"I don't want to overstate the likelihood of it happening," he added.

The potential move would be seen as the network's continued acknowledgement of people's desire to watch scripted shows at their chosen time, and is not without precedent. In 2007, NBC canceled the soap opera Passions and replaced it with Today's fourth hour, which was hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb and has become a major part of the program.

The first two hours of Today are currently anchored by Kotb and Savannah Guthrie and the 9 a.m. hour is anchored by Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones, Craig Melvin and Dylan Dreyer.

While a potential fifth hour likely won't arrive anytime soon, a major change that is on the horizon for Today is the addition of a live studio audience to the fourth hour of the show during two of its weekday airings. Fourth hour hosts Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager recently announced that the Thursday and Friday episodes of their show will be filmed in a new studio, and the episodes, both of which will be filmed on Thursdays, will be named Hoda & Jenna & Friends.

Saturday’s broadcast recently added two Washington correspondents, Peter Alexander and Kristen Welker, and Willie Geist hosts Sunday Today.

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"I think we are always looking for ways to extend the brand and our talent," Oppenheim said.

Photo Credit: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images