A new report claims that NBC found the secret to improving its morning ratings was to take Megyn Kelly off the air.
A report in The Daily Beast said NBC enjoyed a 5 percent increase in viewers in what was Kelly’s 9 a.m. hour after Kelly was essentially fired.
The website claimed that “just-released weekly Nielsen averages” it obtained from “a media outlet that is not connected to NBC or its parent company, Comcast” showed viewers rose from 2.52 million in Kelly’s final week to 2.65 million in NBC’s first week without her.
The report came as Kelly and NBC are negotiating an exit package for the anchor, who was hired away from Fox News in 2017 but whose ratings never soared at NBC.
Kelly triggered her own demise with comments she made justifying the use of blackface for Halloween costumes.
Although she apologized afterward, viewers and insiders pounced upon the comment, leading NBC to pull Kelly off the air and begin talks to end her connection to NBC.
Last week, The Wrap reported that Nielsen audience numbers for the two hours leading up to Kelly’s former NBC slot showed that without Kelly’s looming presence, NBC gained viewers during the 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. time slot.
The Wrap reported that “Today” averaged a little more than 4 million viewers, topping “Good Morning America.”
In its reporting on Kelly’s former time slot, The Daily Beast said two major demographic groups –women 18-49 and women 25-54 — both watched NBC’s replacement for Kelly more than they watched her.
“’That absolutely comes as no surprise at all,” news media analyst Andrew Tyndall told The Daily Beast.
“She was a speed bump placed right in the middle of a four-hour block of programming, dismantling the sense of teamwork on that set and the flow that will get you all the way through from the hard news at 7 a.m. to the light talk through 11 o’clock,” he added.
Tyndall said NBC was dazzled by Kelly’s high tide of media hype in 2016, when she was looking at options beyond Fox News.
“The only way I can figure that it happened is they made a pitch to (NBC News president Andrew Lack) that she was she was the next coming television star, and that wasn’t completely outrageous at the time, when they signed the deal,” Tyndall said. “He hired her to be the next Diane Sawyer — for major interview gets and prime-time specials. And they couldn’t find anywhere else on the schedule to put her except for the 9 o’clock ‘Today’ show.”
Exactly where Kelly might land is a matter of speculation.
Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox, has said Fox News is not likely to take her back, CNBC has reported.
“I’m a big fan of Megyn’s. I like her a lot. We didn’t want her to leave Fox when she did,” he said at The New York Times’ annual DealBook Conference. “Having said that, I’m very happy with our current lineup on Fox, and we won’t be making any changes there.”
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