NBC News has confirmed what has become increasingly obvious. Megyn Kelly’s 9 a.m. Today hour has been canceled. The announcement came Friday in a one-sentence statement to the media. NBC News did not reveal who will host the hour next week, except that it will be anchors already in the Today family.
“Megyn Kelly Today is not returning. Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other Today co-anchors,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s attorney Bryan Freedman stressed in his own statement that negotiations with NBC News are ongoing.
“Megyn remains an employee of NBC News and discussions about next steps are continuing,” he said.
At issue is the payout of the remainder of her reported $69 million contract. Kelly’s side also is attempting to keep her non-compete clause as short as possible. Six months is standard in the television news industry. And Kelly did have such a clause in her Fox News exit agreement that kept her off the air for several months.
Kelly’s program was an expensive gamble for NBC News. Aside from her eye-popping salary, it was filmed in front of an audience in a separate studio from Today, adding as much as $30 million annually to the show’s production budget. Kelly’s staff has been told they will keep their jobs, but NBC News management will surely want to replace the show with a more economical alternative.
Al Roker previously hosted the hour with Tamron Hall, who left the network after she was informed that NBC News management was giving the hour to Kelly. (Hall is readying a daytime talk show for ABC, set to bow next fall.)
Kelly’s blackface comments had immediate consequences with cancellations from multiple Hollywood guests, including the cast of Netflix’s House of Cards. But even before that, Megyn Kelly Today struggled to gain traction. It averaged about 2.4 million viewers a day, while its direct competitor, ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan, leads the time slot with 3 million. Kelly’s show also was off 400,000 viewers from the (cheaper) show it replaced.