E! is expanding its entertainment-news programming, with plans to add three more hours of coverage to its linear schedule in 2020, Variety has learned. To help spearhead the effort, the cable channel is bringing aboard Tammy Filler, a veteran producer on NBC’s “Today,” to lead creative and production for E! News.
The expansion of news across the linear schedule builds on the NBCUniversal-owned cabler’s success in growing E! News’ presence on digital platforms, particularly mobile. Specifics regarding format and talent are not yet in place. But the additional hours are expected to come in daytime and see E! venture further into coverage areas such as celebrity gossip, genre entertainment, and the entertainment business.
“Entertainment-news coverage is really the beating heart of this brand,” E! president Adam Stotsky told Variety. “It’s being at the center of the pop-culture conversation — whether it’s happening live, in the moment, on the red carpet, or it’s happening through our multiplatform coverage, it is one of the assets that we are best known for, and it is what our audience turns to this brand across all of its manifestations for.”
Stotsky touts the network’s muscle in the digital space — E! News claims to garner more than one billion social-media engagements per month — as proof that a linear pivot toward news programming makes sense. “What gives us confidence in the expansion of linear news hours is what we’ve seen the last three or four years, this explosion of engagement off-channel.”
Filler comes to E! following a 16-year tenure at “Today,” where she most recently served as executive producer in charge of the show’s popular fourth hour, responsible for all program content and staff management. Prior to being named executive producer in 2017, she served as co-EP of the show’s third and fourth hours.
She exits “Today” following a successful transition in the fourth hour with Jenna Bush Hager taking over this month for the departed Kathie Lee Gifford, who had served alongside Hoda Kotb as co-host for more than 10 years.
“Tammy has done such an amazing job building the fourth hour of ‘Today,’ most recently, and brings all of her experience across the third and fourth hours,” Stotsky said. “It felt like a natural evolution for her, given the programming thrust of the third and fourth hours. She also happens to be a total pop-culture savant. I think that combination is custom-built for the expansion of E! News.”
As executive VP and editor in chief, Filler will partner with John Najarian, who will serve as exec VP and publisher for the news division. Najarian will oversee business and product expansion, as well as operations. Both execs will report to Stotsky. Najarian will also report to NBCU Digital Enterprises chief Maggie McLean Suniewick as he continues in his role as general manager of NBCU Digital Lab.
The flagship E! News telecast airs at 7 p.m. weeknights, and is currently co-hosted by Giuliana Rancic and Jason Kennedy. E! added an afternoon telecast, “Daily Pop,” in 2017, and a late-night iteration, “Nightly Pop,” last year.
“There’s so much for us to cover, it’s challenging for us to get it all into an hour in ‘Daily Pop,’ an hour in the seven o’clock news, and half an hour in ‘Nightly Pop,'” Stotsky said. “We saw an opportunity to expand.”