Meredith Vieira won’t be the only new thing at NBC’s Today this fall.
The perennial morning-news leader, sans Katie Couric, is launching in high-definition on Sept. 13 from a revamped studio in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
Today follows ABC’s Good Morning America, which launched in 720-line progressive HD last November. It wasn’t competitive pressure, just a matter of facing the inevitable, says Today executive producer Jim Bell.
“There’s never really a perfect time, but this was the time to get it out there,” he says. “As it turns out, we’re going to be fine.”
To speed up the switch, NBC took advantage of summer weather and the unique layout of the studio at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, located across the street from the NBC operations center at 30 Rock, with outdoor space in between. Since June 1, Today has been airing from outside and sharing a control room with NBC Nightly News upstairs at 30 Rock.
Meanwhile, a crew of 10 from systems integrator Ascent Media Services has been converting the studio and its control room to the 1080-line interlace (1080i) HD format.
“Overall, it’s been a tremendous overhaul in terms of the set, the studio and the control room,” says John Wallace, NBC executive VP, television operations and production services.
For starters, NBC doubled the size of Today control room 1-A, located beneath 10 Rock Plaza, to 6,700 square feet. The network also followed the approach it used for other high-def transfers, such as Saturday Night Live, by installing equipment that can be used to produce multiple programs.