'Fox & Friends' Expanding by an Hour (Exclusive)

FOX News

Buoyed by ratings growth, Fox News Channel increases its morning flagship's airtime to four hours.

Starting Monday, Fox & Friends will be one-hour friendlier.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively that the Fox News Channel is expanding its morning flagship by an hour, airing live for the first time between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. ET. A FNC spokesperson confirms that the new lead, Fox & Friends First, will replace the repeats currently filling the timeslot.

PHOTOS: The Most Talked About TV News Faces

The move comes on the heels of recent 9 percent ratings growth, year over year, in total viewers. Fox & Friends averaged 1.2 million viewers in February, topping CNN and MSNBC's morning programming combined. The series also managed to best broadcast competition, the newly relaunched CBS This Morning, in several key markets, including Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland and Orlando.

Fox & Friends' fourth hour will be manned by a rotating pair of FNC personalities. Those already on deck to appear are Heather Childers, Dave Briggs, Ainsley Earhardt, Heather Nauert, Juliet Huddy, Julie Banderas, Anna Kooiman, Clayton Morris, Arthel Neville, Jamie Colby and Patti Ann Browne.

PHOTOS: Rupert Murdoch and the 9 Highest Paid Entertainment CEOs

Presently manned by Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, Fox & Friends first launched in 1998, following the traditional morning format of news analysis, interviews and a variety of recurring segments.

The series originally aired between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. but expanded to start at 6:00 a.m. in 2001.