More than 2.9 million viewers tuned in Monday to get a look at Megyn Kelly’s softer side.
The debut episode of “Megyn Kelly Today” lured approximately 917,000 viewers between 25 and 54 – the demographic favored most by advertisers in news programming – and 2.932 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen. Those numbers represent a 8% jump over the September-to-date average in-demo viewership for the program that previously held the time slot, “Today’s Take,” and a 15% jump overall. At its height, Kelly’s primetime “The Kelly File” on Fox News Channel typically lured an average of 2.5 million viewers overall.
The numbers should not be taken as a final grade on Kelly’s sojourn into daytime. Debut shows tend to nab bigger ratings, because they attract viewers curious to see a bit of TV history, or check out a familiar person in a different venue. In most cases, the numbers tend to go down over time until the program finds its more regular audience levels.
NBC is placing a big bet on Kelly, whose national profile has broadened thanks to a rise at Fox News, a public tangle with President Donald Trump early in the election cycle and her recent move to NBC. NBCU is said to be paying her around $17 million a year.
The industry is curious to see if an anchor who has become so well-known for her hard-edged interviewing style and interviews with politicians can make a go of it in a softer-news venue that calls for more inspiration and less polarization. In the opening moments of her first broadcast Monday, Kelly suggested she would focus less on the headlines of the day and told a live audience, “I’m kind of done with politics for now.”
“Megyn Kelly Today” did not match viewership levels from NBC’s year-ago telecast, however – a time when most of the nation was riveted to the heated walk-up to last year’s presidential election. “Megyn Kelly Today” was off 20% in viewers between 25 and 54, and 3% overall, compared to what aired on NBC in 2016.
Executives at both NBC and ABC will likely be watching to see how Kelly’s new program fared against Disney’s mainstay “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Because the ABC show, which stars Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, is syndicated, official numbers will surface later. Viewership for “Live” for the period between August 28 and September 18 of this year is down 12% among viewers between 25 and 54, according to Nielsen, and off 13% overall. That time period, however, includes a week in which the show was on hiatus.