‘Megyn Kelly Today’ Nabs 2.93 Million Viewers in Debut

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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]


    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer's Casting Explained? Red States Love 'Dancing With the Stars'

    ABC faced backlash this week after casting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars.” But that outrage might actually spice up the dancing competition’s dwindling ratings — particularly in Trump Country. “Dancing with the Stars” has faced a relatively alarming decline in ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content