NBC's $69 million bet on Megyn Kelly is turning into a disaster

NBCMegyn Kelly does not have $US23 million ratings.
  • Megyn Kelly has a three-year, $US69 million contract with NBC, but her show’s ratings are lagging.
  • “Megyn Kelly Today” averages about 2.4 million viewers. “Live With Kelly and Ryan” reaches an audience of 3 million in the same time slot on ABC.
  • Tamron Hall and Al Roker, the hosts who previously had her time slot, made less than half of Kelly’s salary with higher ratings.

NBC poached Megyn Kelly from Fox with a three-year contract for $US69 million, but her ratings are not consistent with what is expected from that level of network investment.

“Megyn Kelly Today” premiered in September 2017 but has yet to find its audience for its 9 a.m. weekday slot.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Nielsen data shows Kelly averages 2.4 million viewers a day. Kelly’s ratings are low in every regard: compared to her own viewership at Fox, compared to her competitors in the same time spot, and compared to her predecessors at NBC.

During Kelly’s last year at Fox News, “The Kelly File” averaged 2.7 million viewers despite being on a cable network. Kelly was in prime time and now airs in mornings, but her viewership dropped as she made the transfer from cable to network television.

In the same time slot over at ABC, “Live With Kelly and Ryan” has seen a spike in ratings, partially attributed to Megyn Kelly’s performance and partially attributed to Ryan Seacrest being named as Kelly Ripa’s permanent co-host.

Nielsen shows that “Live” has expanded its lead over “Today” since Megyn Kelly joined NBC. Ripa and Seacrest now average 747,000 more viewers than Kelly. Forbes reported that Ripa made about $US18 million last year and will make approximately $US20 million from her “Live” salary in 2018.The Wall Street Journal reported that the audience for “Megyn Kelly Today” is 18% smaller than the audience for NBC’s previous hosts in her spot, Tamron Hall and Al Roker, and that Hall and Roker had a combined salary of less than half of what Kelly is now making when they had the 9 a.m. spot last year. Hall has since left NBC.

Kelly made a major jump from cable to network news by leaving Fox for NBC. Stephen Colbert – who is now making $US15 million – made a comparable cable-to-network move from Comedy Central to CBS for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” His ratings initially suffered, but the critical reception and viewership of Colbert’s late-night talk show have improved.

Kelly’s ratings had a temporary improvement in February, which was attributed to NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics.

The former Fox star’s other show with NBC, “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” finished its first season earlier than anticipated among low ratings. The first episode featured an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and The Journal reported that NBC was surprised the premiere only took in 6 million viewers.

NBC has said that the weekly news show that aired eight episodes last summer will now run “periodically.”

For her part, Kelly has said she is willing to give her program some time to find an audience. “Our show is a baby. We’re six months old,” Kelly said in a statement.

“Morning TV is obviously new to me and I’m figuring it out as we go … I think any show needs about a year to find its footing,” she said.

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