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Megyn Kelly kicked off phase two of her post-Fox News rebrand on Monday morning, and her new NBC hour made a pretty solid entry into the crowded daytime landscape.
Megyn Kelly Today, the bridge between NBC’s long-standing two-hour Today mothership and the looser fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb — they love wine! — brought in an average 2.9 million viewers to her debut, per Nielsen Media. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, she earned 970,000 viewers. (Those are respective improvements of 19 and 14 percent from the hour’s showing without her last week.)
The big competition for Kelly is, well, the other Kelly. Live! With Kelly and Ryan‘s Monday telecast does not yet have adjusted audience numbers, but overnight ratings give it a slight advantage over Megyn Kelly Today among both households and the daytime favorite demo of women 25-54.
Here’s where I insert an obligatory mention that premiere ratings for a daytime telecast, especially one of this nature that sort of slips into a preexisting franchise, don’t really matter. Kelly’s challenge will be to maintain as much of her sampling as possible while also ideally bringing in new viewers over the coming weeks and months. Daytime series are about building relationships with viewers, and that’s something Kelly never had a problem with at Fox News. It’s how she segued to primetime and eventually made the jump to NBC.
But Kelly’s is a unique move, one from a more partisan-skewing outlet, enduring an uncommon level of scrutiny. The summer launch of Kelly’s primetime news magazine raised several red flags about how the new morning show might fare with audiences. Through it’s brief initial run of eight episodes, Kelly’s Sunday Night averaged 3.7 million viewers, despite an auspicious sampling.
NBC is playing the long game with Kelly. Her rich multiyear deal with the dominant broadcast news organization does not hinge on any one aspect, but the morning show is where much of the resources have gone. It was also not without a share of drama that the third hour of Today was freed up for Kelly. News of her departure for NBC from Fox News was quickly followed by the exit of longtime NBC News-er Tamron Hall the the ultimate dissolution of the her program.
Today also hasn’t been in the most advantageous position. Though all broadcast morning shows are down, and Today still easily ranks as the No. 1 telecast among adults 25-54, it just wrapped its least watched season since 1991. Both Today and ABC’s Good Morning America were at all-time lows in the demo.
Expect more on this front in the next week or so once Kelly’s aired a few more telecasts, and more ratings become available for her competition.
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