The New Battleground of Cable News: 5 AM

By Alex Weprin 

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Michael O’Connell reports that Fox News Channel will be expanding “Fox & Friends” by one hour, starting at 5 AM instead of 6 AM. A number of rotating personalities will fill-in on the hour, which is being called “Fox & Friends First.”

Over the last year or so, the 5-6 AM hour has become a new battleground for cable news. Once the home of reruns and infomercials, now CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will all have live, original programming daily during that hour.

MSNBC has “First Look” at 5 AM and “Way Too Early” with Willie Geist at 5:30 AM leading into “Morning Joe,” while CNN has “Early Start” running from 5-7 AM. Now “Fox & Friends” will be joining the fray.

The move into the early hours was actually spurred on by local newscasts.

Over the last few years some stations in local markets began experimenting with really early newscasts to try and differentiate themselves from their competition. In many cases, it has been very successful.

In effect, the local newscasts proved that there was a market for news and information in the pre-sunrise hours. It is only logical that cable news would follow suit, though shifting the focus to national news, rather than local fare.