When NBC hired Megyn Kelly to bring some news star power to its morning line-up, the network was confident that its bet would pay off and quickly. At least, that’s what the $69 million, three-year contract would indicate. But after over 30 weeks on the air, her share of viewers has dropped well below expectations.
Kelly’s Show Helping the Competition
Kelly’s not only losing viewers for her own mish-mash of a morning show, she’s causing other NBC morning programming to suffer.
For example, “Today” with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford follows “Megyn Kelly Today” in the 10 am slot. This firmly established program with presenters that are well known to their audience has seen a six percent decline in viewers overall and a 19 percent drop in its 24-54 year old population.
Where are all those eyeballs going? Walt Disney’s “Live with Kelly & Ryan,” for one. The rival morning show has already doubled its lead in the 10 am slot with 747,000 new viewers.
No Bang for NBC’s Buck
Kelly’s “Today” hour is definitely hurting her fellow NBC television hosts, but that’s not the end of it. The program itself has lost NBC 18 percent viewership in the 9 am slot year over year. Ratings are also down 28 percent since last season.
Despite all of this, the thing that’s the most alarming isn’t really that Kelly’s program is leaving a bad taste in some viewer’s mouths, it’s the cost of that unpalatability. Besides Kelly’s lofty $23 million a year salary, Kelly’s private staff, including a stylist and publicist, are costing NBC a large, but undisclosed, amount to maintain.
Kelly’s Contribution to “Today”
The “Today” franchise has been a consistent moneymaker for NBC for decades, now generating more than $500 million in revenue and $100 million in profits annually.
Although Kelly is unlikely to derail such an iconic program, she’s certainly doing it no favors. For example, Kelly asked Jane Fonda about her plastic surgery during an interview about an upcoming film. Fonda responded with snark throughout the rest of the interview.
Later, Kelly thought it was appropriate to attack the actress, calling her “a woman who is synonymous with outrage.” She refused to issue an apology to Fonda, instead digging her heels in over her mistreatment of her guest. Since that incident, celebrities have been hesitant to book with her, though NBCUniversal stars will sometimes appear on the show.