Are Megyn Kelly and Fox News Better Together Than Apart?

Megyn Kelly
Courtesy of Fox News

Analysis: Megyn Kelly is an unstoppable force in TV news. But harnessing her power isn't cheap.

Megyn Kelly and Fox News have had a whirlwind affair. Ever since the 21st Century Fox-owned cable-news outlet launched her “Kelly File” at 9 p.m. in October of 2013  — its first major change to its primetime lineup in more than 11 years – both sides have reaped a harvest of viewership, ad sales, and media buzz.

Now the two partners must consider whether they would be better off without each other.

The answer may be a resounding “No.” While an anchor of Kelly’s caliber, presence, and renown would be a major get for any number of TV-news outlets, it’s not clear whether any of them would want to fork over the money that appears to be involved in her current talks with Fox News. Kelly has been receiving a sum around $15 million in the last year of her current contract and, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, has proposed a new salary of more than $20 million during recent negotiations.

Getting a rival outlet to match that sum is likely to pose a challenge, according to people familiar with the situation. Consider the fact that Robin Roberts is believed to pull down between $10 million and $14 million as a co-anchor at ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the nation’s most-watched morning-news program, according to a recent Variety survey of industry salaries, or that Katie Couric, at the height of her popularity, was reported in 2008 by the Journal to be earning an annual salary of $15 million to anchor “CBS Evening News.”

Making matters more complex is the fact that many Fox News counter-suitors have been spending money of their own. ABC News now must shoulder a hefty salary for Michael Strahan, who has joined “Good Morning America” as a co-anchor with Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. CNN recently signed primetime anchor Anderson Cooper to a new, multi-year deal that keeps him from co-hosting the syndicated morning program “Live” with Kelly Ripa. NBCUniversal is believed to be on the hook to pay out a contract to Billy Bush, who recently left the network in the wake of a controversy involving Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There is continued speculation that NBC may be paying money to Josh Elliott, the former “GMA” news anchor who moved to NBC Sports for a few years, but exited his contract early.

To be sure, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If a TV honcho thought Kelly’s star power would boost ratings and be economically feasible, money might not be a barrier.

Yet even Kelly is said to be “realistic” about her ability to pull in the same salary that Fox appears prepared to offer somewhere else, according to a person familiar with her thinking. This person said the anchor is generally happy with her role at Fox News but also wishes to find a way to spend more time with her children. She is known to hang around the Fox News offices until late at night, the better to have a short post-mortem with the staff of her “Kelly File” after the program ends at 10 p.m., and then take care of various tasks.

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Because the network has traditionally rarely tinkered with its programming formula, anchors tend to stay at Fox News for years. What’s more, Fox News and its sister, Fox Business Network, have welcomed veterans, and they also stick around. Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, for example, seem well entrenched in Fox Business slots. People do leave Fox News for jobs at other outlets – Paula Zahn and Allisyn Camerota both found new steps at CNN  – but it is the exception, not the rule.

Kelly has a new team at Creative Artists Agency that is in the mist of sussing out whether she might have viable offers elsewhere. Among the people working on her behalf is Matt DelPiano, who has typically represented actors including Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin. Alan Berger, a veteran of TV-news deals, is also involved, according to people familiar with the matter, but it’s DelPiano with whom Kelly is close.

A Kelly departure could also crimp Fox News, which has not publicly pointed to an immediate successor for her.  Kelly’s willingness to grill Republican guests and push back on conventional wisdom has been good for Fox, which has one of TV’s older set of viewers. Her presence is a nod to a rising generation of audience that is interested in a greater diversity of viewpoints.

It’s not immediately clear who might take a slot vacated by Kelly. Harris Faulkner, a Fox News veteran who has anchored weekends and daytime, has appeared at times to have support from executives, but in more recent weeks, so too have Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Shepard Smith. Fox News is likely to need to fill its 7 p.m. hour in just a few weeks. Brit Hume has been filling in for the departed Greta Van Susteren, but is at present expected to stay only through the coming presidential election.

Rival TV-news outlets may be able to offer Kelly money or prestige, but there’s one thing they cannot give her: the audience lead-in served up to her most nights by Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly has two decades on the air, but still wins big numbers. His “O’Reilly Factor” nabbed an average audience of 3.1 million viewers in the third quarter of this year, far more than 8 p.m. competitors Anderson Cooper or Chris Hayes. Kelly is no slouch herself, snaring about 2.94 million viewers in the same time period.  Should she move elsewhere, she would have to win them all by herself  in prime time (who’s to say what Kelly might do on a morning-news program or a traditional evening-news broadcast).

It makes all the sense in the world to look around when a contract is set to expire, as Kelly’s is expected to do in July. But sometimes, when things are going your way – Kelly also has a much-anticipated memoir ready to launch as is involved in a scripted digital-video series for Go90 – it could make all the sense in the world to stay where you are.

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  1. Nanci says:

    The mainstream media colluded with the Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the whitehouse and others to try and get their candidate elected. If Megan Kelly wants to join that club then that’s exactly where she needs to be. The rest of us who have not had our heads in the sand can know the truth, that none of this really maters.

  2. Thoreau, A says:

    Megyn is a better fit for Good Morning America. Let her move on.

  3. R. MILLER says:

    SHE HAS AN ATTIDUDE, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HER GONE.

  4. Time for a change.Her attitude is very distasteful at best.Fox needs a fresh face with a more humbling attitude and less ego.

  5. Beth ann says:

    PLEASE send bimbo Megyn Kelly anywhere but Fox!!!

  6. Dee Potter says:

    I love Megyn Kelly. It’s the only show I watch on FAUX News. She has a mind of her own, and would do better at an unbiased station. I think she is one of the very best. She calls things like she sees them. I think she should leave the toxic FAUX. I will watch her no matter where she goes.

  7. travis says:

    let her go please let her go

  8. Rolland Hamm says:

    I do not watch Kelley anymore. She comes on to much herself and lost interest.

  9. pd says:

    Hopefully she will be compensated commensurate with the commentary on this site and the many others I have read, very consistent majority thumbs down! As soon as truth tellers like Hannity, Dobs & Pirro (check their viewership-Way up sucker!) are gone Fox will be struggling to compete with left wing propaganda stations like C-linton-NN & MSNBHee-Haw. She should spew on the “View” with Wind bag Behar and whoop-dee-doo!

  10. Victoria says:

    I agree with almost all of the fore mentioned comments.. she is not very good and went down hill when she was given her own show the National Enquirer is a more suitable venue for her type of reporting. We no longer watch her show.. we switch it over to Tommy on the Blaze who much smarter and more articulate.

  11. sane lady says:

    i am a woman and I find her disgusting. Do your filthy crap on Howard Stern you vile woman. Either that or go into porn. You are awful

  12. Kenneth Longwell says:

    FOX needs her. She doesn’t need FOX .

  13. biggyfries says:

    Answer: HELL NO! If Fox would get the guts to dump Megan and replace her with Shannon Bream their ratings would soar! Who needs the reflexive caustic liberal lawyer Kelly? She is rotten to the core–I never realized it til the FIRST question of the first debate, and she tried to torpedo Trump–and she hasn’t let up for a minute since. She is no “powerhouse” at Fox–I have no idea what they see in her. Libs like her because she hates Trump, and for no other reason.

  14. Her attitude changed completely after the first few months of reporting. In my estimation her ego has risen to a high level in her current reporting. Her fast talking and pushing on people isn’t news it’s trash
    to accelerate her point of view.

  15. dryedmangoez says:

    I think they definitely benefit each other.

  16. Westindiesgirl says:

    She is not a likable character. A she-man with no manners…

  17. Jesse1234567 says:

    She is not a journalists, she was a corporate lawyer, who was young and blonde. Purely eye candy for TV news. She’s getting older, not much to do about anything and she will be disappointed thinking she’s going to bet money anywhere other than Fox. Fox could do better anyway, like hiring a real journalists and not a self absorbed bimbo

  18. Head Honcho says:

    Megyn should be fired, NOW.

  19. Richard L Kray says:

    How about fair and balanced Fox showing Howard Stern and Kelly interview?

  20. Donald E.Davis says:

    I don’t watch kelly anymore, she’s to into herself, arrogant, she is annoying.

  21. Megyn Kelly is a gifted and talented anchor, but that said, I think NO ONE is worth 20 million dollars a year. NO ONE is worth 15 million for that matter. What in heaven’s name does anyone need that annual salary for? People who risk their lives each day such as our military, police and fire fighters don’t make a fraction of that. Sitting in lovely clothes interviewing people takes a genuine skill, but it is not on a par with risking one’s life.

  22. Anh says:

    Ms. Kelly is a courageous, intelligent, quick-witted, articulate and attractive journalist who does her job with passion/ professionalism and would attract loyal audience anywhere she goes. Whichever decision she makes, we hope she’ll find inner peace, without which higher rating/$ amount can wither away quality of life.

    To those angry viewers, look at yourselves objectively. Do you like the person you see who shows much anger and spreads negative energy/language just because you don’t agree with someone’s opinion? Try a constructive criticism next time. I don’t agree with but am not angry at you because it seems you’re letting your ego running your life. Focus on your positive attributes and be a happier person that you deserve.

  23. kelly is on her ego trip, she is stuck on herself.
    some of her guests are her liberal friends..
    Kelly likes to talk about the Sexual scandal, and attempts to PUT
    Trump in bad light, But she ignored any mention regarding
    Bill Clinton, the SEXUAL PREDATOR, WHO RAPED 4 WOMEN..
    KELLY, WHAT SIDE OF THE FENCE ARE YOU ON.?
    THE ONLY REASON SHE HAS HIGH RATING IS BECAUSE
    SHE FOLLOWS THE O’REILLY-FACTOR..
    IF HER SHOW WAS AT 3 OR 4 OR 7 P.M. HER RATING WOULD BE VERY LOW.
    I THINK ITS TIME FOR MEGYN ON MOVE ON.
    I THINK HANNITY WOULD BE GREAT REPLACEMENT OF KELLY.

  24. Don says:

    Tired of watching Megan interrupt people on her show. Time for a replacement! (good bye Megan

  25. John Higgins says:

    Why is it always the women whom have had great success on our American scene that always complain about women’s rights. It gets troubling and tends to make one think that no elevation of recognition would be sufficient for those enormous egos like M. Kelly’s. She started out doing good work but got too wrapped up in herself and lost her demeanor of good manners and courtesy. Get her the hell off of my favorite news channel.

    • Totally agree with you John. I dont know what the heck happened to her, but no one in our household will watch her anymore. As soon as she comes on, we leave. Best anchors hands down are Brett Baer and Britt Hume. I dont care so much for Wallace…just think he does not challenge in many instances and makes errors, but at least he’s watchable. O’Reilly took 5 years to become ARROGANT…..Kelly only took MONTHS!!!

    • Frank says:

      Women, on average get paid less then men for the same work. Across many markets.

  26. Frank says:

    i’m confident Fox knows they have a winner and will ignore a bunch of internet losers because a host didn’t fufill their tiny world views….Megyn will get PAID

  27. JOAN says:

    KELLY CAN GET A JOB AT CNN TAKING DONNA’S PLACE AS TOP DOG

  28. bryce bliss says:

    get rid of megan kelly

  29. Vince says:

    Wow! The really sick thing here is how much these performing fleas get paid to spout off their nonsense. Advertisers must be nuts to support these people to pay these kinds of salaries.

  30. PAULA says:

    I AGREE WITH THE LAST PERSON THE SOONER THE BETTER I DO NOT LIKE HER ON FOX THEY NEED TO REPLACE HER WITH JUDGE JANINE

    • Carol Cherf says:

      I do not watch Meghan anymore………….ever since she blasts Donald Trump….so she can go anywhere and I won’t miss her……………

  31. Jack Mabry says:

    She is a pathetic journalist. Has very little talent, just uses her looks to get by. Fox could do a whole lot better, for a whole lot less money. Dump her!

  32. Jim Hand says:

    I say the sooner she is gone the better! FOX will be making a big mistake to renegotiate a huge increase in her salary. My wife and I stopped watching her months ago. If she is the new face of FOX, it will be a sinking ship. She is patronizing, hypocritical, boorish, snarky, and full of herself.

  33. I think you could put Trish Regan in that slot if Kelly left. And if she did leave to CNN or MSNBC I wouldn`t follow her. Kelly is neither liberal or conservative depending on who she interviews . I didn`t think her attitude toward Trump was necessary, and kind of put me off, but the election will soon be over and we will see where she is at.

  34. sam says:

    I never watch fox news tell some one got a backbone.Thank you Megyn Kelly. keep them straight.

  35. Lee Vela says:

    i say, kick the biatch to the curb. she’s belong on cnn, not on fox!

  36. Sarah March says:

    Megan Kelly try’s to be cute and charming, but she can’t pull it off anymore. She is a one trick pony with her Trump feud. Things need to be more interesting. I enjoy switching the channel to One America news OAN. Liz wheeler is very intelligent she can run rings around Kelly. I enjoyed her program tipping point. Fox could save a lot of money by hiring Liz instead of losing the viewers.

  37. jlor says:

    Maybe they should negotiate somewhere in the middle. It’ not like she’s starving to death. That’s a slice of the pie we could all live with.

  38. Frank says:

    question…if Mitt Romney or John McCain(w/out Palin) were running against Hillary.
    a. Landslide?
    b. would we be talking about megyn kelly?

  39. Jeff says:

    Check her ratings, down. Dumb her.

  40. James Lovell says:

    I have often disagreed with Meghan’s charging wedge against Republicans, but she is the best thing on Fox. She is open, honest and refreshing. She has a sense of humor, and is well known by her associates in the industry, and actually has a pretty good association and is admired by even those interviewees she hosts, and that includes Donald Trump. Pay her $20 million and hang on to her.

  41. she has gotten to liberal , dump her

  42. You know she’s doing her job when the Fox base simpletons turn on her.

  43. Karen Guthrie says:

    Bye bye…don’t let the door hit you in the A$$. Stopped watching after that first primary debate. I know several others who feel the same way. If we want that kind of so called journalism…we can watch CNN or other hack outlets. Will not miss her one bit…Bring Greta back, even tho I think she is a liberal…you could always count on her to be fair in her reporting or commentary.

  44. pinpon says:

    Apart !!!!!!!

  45. She has become annoying and argumentative since she was spot lighted by Trump. When her show comes on my channel changes to something on another network!

  46. Laura Redlowsk says:

    Let her leave. She doesn’t broadcast the news but provokes anger depending on whose side she’s on that day.

  47. mary says:

    Fox is so partisan, that people can’t stand a reporter that questions Trump in any way. Fox listeners think Trump walks on water, fortunately Kelly doesn’t, and asks the questions that should be asked. Keep her, she is the only one who isn’t partial. A breath of fresh air on Fox.

  48. melrose says:

    the big mistake would be if they split

  49. Darcy says:

    Filling Megan’s spot on FOX with dead space would be better than airing her! She is so obnoxious it makes me change the channel.
    Now Judge Jeanne Pirro would be a breath of fresh air.

  50. Richard Raymond says:

    Smart, good looking, slick, overpaid propagandist!!
    Who cares where she winds up? Who watches anymore, just like Glenn Beck.
    Follow Michelle Malkin even better!!

    • Karen says:

      I totally agree with you. You know when she needed someone she went to Trump and he graciously agreed to appear on her special show on network…she needed ratings and he gave them to her. I doubt is many people would have watched it. Only reason so many did watch was to see Donald. She used him to gain ratings. User, over rated and sorry, just another pretty face. Her school girl giggling and loud voice is most annoying.

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