Megyn Kelly’s new NBC morning show is off to a ragged start by most accounts, but The New York Times reports that the trouble may run deeper than just having the host glared at by Jane Fonda or having a camera operator mutter an audible “s–t” on the air during a tech glitch.
The biggest problem for Kelly, who has taken over the 9 a.m. hour of NBC’s “Today” show, may be a familiar one in the broadcast TV business: soft ratings.
“In her first week as a cheerful morning personality, Ms. Kelly, a former Fox News anchor, drew an average of 2.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen, with 765,000 of them in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic prized by advertisers and network executives,” The Times reports. “The total audience for ‘Megyn Kelly Today,’ Ms. Kelly’s portion of the show, was roughly in line with what ‘Today’ was reaching in the same hour before making the change, when it was hosted by Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones. In the coveted age bracket, the show’s audience for Ms. Kelly was 5 percent smaller than it was the previous week.”
The Times report adds: “Ms. Kelly’s first ‘Today’ hour, which featured as its main guests the cast of the rebooted NBC sitcom ‘Will & Grace,’ had an audience of 2.9 million viewers. The next day, 2.6 million viewers tuned in. By week’s end, the number had fallen to 2.3 million.”
Those numbers signal a potential problem, especially considering that “Megyn Kelly Today” is costing more than the previous 9 a.m. hour of “Today” — with much of the added expense attributable to Kelly’s salary of $17 million a year, The Times notes.
Compounding the problem, The Times adds: “Ms. Kelly’s first week was highly scrutinized, and the early reviews for the show were brutal.”