Megyn Kelly was supposed to bring new viewers to NBC’s “Today” franchise, but the network’s high-stakes gamble on the former Fox News star quickly went south as viewers instead began fleeing her hour of the show.
“Since taking over the 9 a.m. hour of the lucrative morning show in September and rebranding it ‘Megyn Kelly Today,’ Ms. Kelly has struggled to make the shift to daytime broadcast television, with its delicate balance of soft features and hard news,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Her ratings declines and higher production costs have been a drag on a critical franchise for NBC.”
Kelly has a three-year deal at NBC for $23 million a year, the report notes — a $69 million bet for NBC that appears to have backfired.
“Since joining ‘Today,’ Ms. Kelly is averaging 2.4 million viewers an episode, 18% below what the hour was pulling in last season, according to data from Nielsen,” WSJ reports. “The ratings have declined sharply for the past two months, dipping to a low of 1.9 million, after getting a lift from the network’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in February.
“Among adults aged 25 to 54, the key demographic that the show targets, ratings are down 28% since last season.”
Interviewed for WSJ’s in-depth report on the “Megyn Kelly Today” situation, Kelly said: “I need to introduce myself to people who don’t know me or know some bastardized version of me that they’ve gotten from a website or a TV show. There are definitely some who only know me through some caricature they learned about on ‘The Daily Show.’”
The report cites Nielsen data suggesting that Kelly’s ratings are also hurting the 10 a.m. hour of “Today” with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.
“That hour of the show, which focuses on lighthearted lifestyle and celebrity news, is down 6% in viewers and 19% among adults 25-54,” WSJ reports, adding: “The performance of ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ has allowed its chief rival, Walt Disney Co.’s syndicated chat show ‘Live with Kelly & Ryan,’ to more than double its lead over NBC in that hour to 747,000 viewers.”
We encourage readers to click on the link above to WSJ to read its in-depth report.