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Extended ‘Today’ to air Sept. 10

NBC sets debut for new four-hour version

NBC News has set Sept. 10 as the debut for the fourth hour of “Today,” a long-planned expansion of its market-leading ayem franchise.

The fourth hour of the show, which will be carried at 10 or 11 a.m. by 90% of NBC stations, will be staffed by “Today” news anchor Ann Curry, national correspondent Natalie Morales and correspondent Hoda Kotb. Hour will be produced by “Today” senior producer Amy Rosenblum.

Exec producer Jim Bell said the fourth hour will follow the template of the third, which focuses on lifestyle, health and culinary segments, and may update earlier stories with viewer feedback and analysis.

On days that “Today” updates the first hour for the West Coast, it will require that the staff produce two hours of live TV simultaneously.

“We are built technically and editorially for it,” Bell said. “We can update Matt (Lauer) and Meredith (Vieira) at 10 a.m. ET for the West Coast update and continue with the fourth hour in two different control rooms.”

The third hour of “Today,” or “Today II” as it is known, launched in 2000 and averages 3.6 million viewers. It retains 81% of the show’s audience at 8:30 a.m. even as it competes in many markets with ABC’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” and with local newscasts.

The fourth hour will compete against ABC’s “The View,” as well as “Rachael Ray” and CBS’ “The Price Is Right,” depending on the market.

For the last week in July, the first two hours of “Today” averaged 4.7 million total viewers vs. 4.3 million for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and 2.2 million for CBS’ “Early Show,” according to Nielsen Media Research.

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