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NBC News Explores Streaming Options for ‘Today’ (EXCLUSIVE)

TODAY -- Pictured: Carson Daly, Craig
Courtesy of NBCUniversal

NBC News is considering whether its venerable “Today” morning show might also serve as an all-day streaming-video outlet.

In a memo issued Monday, NBC News Digital staffers were told that the company plans to explore streaming opportunities for “Today” and intends to shift some employees assigned to video “to focus on preparing for a streaming experience.” A person familiar with the matter says NBC News is mulling such an initiative, but cautioned that it is in its earliest days and is not guaranteed to come to fruition.

NBC News declined to elaborate on the memo, which was sent by Ashley Parrish, vice president of strategic content and Today Digital.

Such an effort could, if fully realized, amount to a vast expansion of the relationship “Today” has with its audience. The program, which launched in 1952, has long served as a cultural touchstone to many American A.M. viewers, but a robust digital concept would turn the morning staple into a venue that could be viewed at moments of any user’s choosing. NBC has worked for several years to expand the program’s media presence, adding lifestyle stories, video clips and an e-commerce element to its content.

NBC can’t afford not to move the show into new realms. ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the main “Today” rival, is doing the same.

Expanding Today’s digital presence will continue to be a priority, Parrish says in her missive, and NBC News Digital intends to hire 30 new staffers to help the morning show’s digital footprint grow. She says Today.com saw its audience grow 37% over the past six months, compared with the year-earlier period.

Many of the anchors on the various hours of “Today” have expanded their duties to encompass digital-video programs. Craig Melvin, for example, hosts “Dad’s Got This,” a digital series that puts a spotlight on everyday fathers. Jenna Bush Hager leads “Open Book,” a digital series that allows her to discuss her love of reading with authors, celebrities and influencers. And Al Roker stars in “Cold Cuts,” where he interviews guests while they craft a signature sandwich.

NBC News wants more for “Today,” which it sees as more than just a TV program. “You can imagine a future in which the broadcast television show is just one piece of a larger ‘Today’ brand that people are interacting with,” NBC News President Noah Oppenheim told Variety in a January interview.

Top “Today” producers have already been contemplating ways the program might fit into Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming-video service that is slated to launch in April. “I think Peacock is an incredible opportunity for us,” Libby Leist, executive produce of the program’s flagship two hours, told Variety in January. “We have so much archival material – cooking segments. ‘Today Food’ is such a franchise. What can we do with that?”