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Three episodes in, NBC’s Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly is suffering from no shortage of attention. The former Fox News personality’s transition to NBC host got especially bumpy this past week with the show’s heavily-dissected decision to interview controversial radio host and Infowars entrepreneur Alex Jones.
The episode finally aired Sunday, averaging 3.5 million viewers, a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49 and a 0.7 rating among adults 25-54. By all measures, that’s virtually the same showing Kelly got with final adjustments during week two — again trailing a 60 Minutes repeat on CBS.
Audio of the interview leaked prior to the telecast when Jones posted it online in an effort to discredit Kelly’s line of questioning. Kelly most notably asked Jones, a man who peddles both conspiracies and questionable dietary supplements, about his motivations for calling the devastating 2012 mass murder at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School a “hoax.”
Merely sitting down with Jones did not go over well with Sandy Hook families and a few advertisers. NBC News went aggressively on the defensive, trotting out elder statesman Tom Brokaw to read an essay about the need to interview characters like Jones, due to the reach of their “poisonous claims.”
Kelly’s first episode of Sunday Night came out of the gate rather strong, averaging 6.2 million viewers. Her second installment, however, dipped to 3.6 million viewers and was dwarfed by competitor 60 Minutes — despite the fact that NBC paired the show with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup-clinching Game 6 over the Nashville Predators.
Sunday Night and all Sunday originals were again overwhelmed by sports this week. Time-zone adjustments will likely alter Fox’s wrap-up of the 2017 U.S. Open Golf Championship, but preliminary numbers make it a solid winner for the night, with 6.1 million viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49.
Early numbers also have ABC and Fox sharing demo bragging rights for the night. Fox followed up the U.S. Open with an improved American Grit, still modest with a 0.6 rating in the key demo, while ABC rolled out three hours of game shows. Save an even Celebrity Family Feud, which earned a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49, the narrative was downward. Steve Harvey’s Funderdome dipped to a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49, while $100,000 Pyramid was down to a 0.9 rating after the previous week’s premiere.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster