Megyn Kelly’s first series with NBC, Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly, was a big bomb in the ratings department, repeatedly topped by reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos. On September 25, her second attempt at headlining NBC programming, Megyn Kelly Today, will air, and some people at NBC News are already pretty worried.
The Daily Beast spoke with a few anonymous insiders who say that execs are beginning to wonder if the $17 million paycheck to lure Kelly from Fox News was worth it. It sounds like NBC has suddenly realized that Kelly’s appeal to the 55-and-older angry white man demographic doesn’t necessarily translate to daytime TV that leans on human interest stories, recipes, fashion, and gentle gossip:
“A lot of people were watching the magazine show to try to get a sense of her appeal to the daytime demographic and a sense of how she would be outside of the Fox environment,” said a veteran daytime television impresario, who noted that the nationwide audience in that time period is not only heavily female but from 25 to 30 percent African American and Latino. “Fox News skews very male… I always tend to think of her as more of a guy’s girl than a girl’s girl… It’s extremely challenging, and I’m not sure Megyn’s personality really connects with women.”
Kelly has been making periodic appearances during the Today show morning block, doing a few segments to show she can hang. But memories of her politically-oriented interviews on Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly are weighing on NBC, as they courted controversy rather than viewership: particularly her interview with Alex Jones, notorious conspiracy theorist, which undermined Kelly’s draw as a star anchor. After living through that misstep, there are internal questions as to “who her audience is exactly” and a reported feeling of “total panic.”
Taking over on Today is likely going to be a smoother transition than creating her own brand spanking new Sunday night show. There are several hours of family favorites warming up the audience every morning before Kelly gets in the chair, and by then they’ll supposedly be all chill and ready to welcome her:
“She has the safety net of being in the Today show cocoon,” said the daytime impresario. “She’ll be in the flow of audience going through that time period at 9 a.m., and there’s going to be some buzz around it, and some sampling by viewers.”
But, this daytime veteran cautioned, “she’s going to have to adapt to the live audience, she will have to be more entertaining, and that will be a learning curve for her. The ultimate question is whether she connects with women in daytime.”
NBC execs are reportedly still worried about the level of scrutiny Kelly will receive during her debut, especially as her addition to the team instigated the departure of longtime NBC anchor Tamron Hall. They do have one thing right, though: we’ll be watching.