×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Today’ Ratings Climb After Megyn Kelly Departs

The departure of Megyn Kelly from NBC’s 9 a.m. “Today” timeslot marked a setback for the anchor as well as the network paying her millions of dollars to host. But the split appears to be helping the morning franchise overall.

Since Kelly’s exit from the third hour of “Today,” viewership in the key demographic favored by advertisers in that time period is up around 10%, according to Nielsen. And in each of the last three weeks, overall audience for the flagship first two hours of the NBC A.M. mainstay has been larger than that for its main rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America” – a testament to some of the big breaking news stories that have recently gripped the nation, including a recent shooting tragedy in Pittsburgh. NBC canceled “Megyn Kelly Today” on October 26, two days after comments she made about wearing blackface and amid talks the two sides were having about finding her a new role at NBC News. Kelly and NBCUniversal continue to negotiate terms of her departure, according to people familiar with the matter.

The question for NBC will be whether the surge will hold, or fall back to more typical levels. “GMA” usually nabs the biggest morning-news audience overall, while “Today” takes the lead in the measure that matters more, the viewers between 25 and 54 who are coveted most by advertisers in news programming.

In its last week on air, “Megyn Kelly Today” captured 675,000 viewers between 25 and 54, according to Nielsen, and approximately 2.52 million viewers overall. Last week, the third hour of “Today” snared 741,000 viewers between 25 and 54 and more than 2.63 million viewers overall, representing jumps of about 10% and 4%.

Executives at rival networks now want to know if “Today” can keep it up. Viewers in recent months have gravitated to the program in moments of crisis and spectacle, such as Matt Lauer’s ouster in late 2017 or NBCUniversal’s days-long broadcast around the recent Winter Olympics. Indeed, the show’s first two hours have not had a three-week run like this since NBC telecast the most recent Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea. But weeks afterward, the audience levels tend to settle.

“Today” has experienced a lot of tumult in the last 12 months. Viewers have seen the quick coming together of Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, marking the only all-female morning anchor team on national broadcast TV at present (Robin Meade leads a team through four hours or more each weekday on AT&T’s HLN). Craig Melvin, who formerly worked on the weekend “Today” broadcast, is enjoying an expanded presence during the weekday show’s first two hours. And the inordinate amount of attention paid to Kelly’s hour made the program often seem like it wasn’t part of the “Today” morning, which lasts from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. each weekday.

The third hour is now hosted by a rotating group of “Today” anchors, and saw its overall viewership rise 5% in the first week after Kelly’s departure. Producers have, for now, fashioned an hour that looks much like “Today’s” first two, except that it’s led from Studio 6A, the facility that housed “Megyn Kelly Today,” with a live audience that is significantly more subdued than the one that flocked to that program. Craig Melvin, Jenna Bush Hager and Al Roker have played larger  roles in the revamped time period, aided at times by a bevy of NBC News personnel, including “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie; Stephanie Gosk; and Keir Simmons. Even Natalie Morales, the former “Today” newsreader who once played a prominent anchor role at 9 a.m., has made an appearance.

Meanwhile, flagship “Today” has also benefited. For the five days ended November 9, “Today” captured an average of about 4.25 million viewers, compared with nearly 4.22 million viewers at “GMA.” NBC re-titled one of last week’s “Today” broadcasts having to do with the recent California shooting tragedy, according to a person familiar with the matter, which can affect ratings measures, but it’s the third consecutive week in which “Today” has bested “GMA” in total audience.

The margin between the two rival programs is – as it has been for years – razor-thin. Season to date, “GMA” has just 74,000 more viewers than “Today,” compared with 134,000 for the same period last season. NBC noted the viewer gap between the two programs is the closest in seven years.

More TV

  • Former 'Project Runway' Casting Professionals Launch

    Former 'Project Runway' Casting Professionals Launch Vital Casting

    Three former “Project Runway” casting professionals have launched Vital Casting, a woman-led casting company whose mission is to help production companies, networks, studios, and streamers cast unscripted content with a focus on inclusion, equity and diversity in representation. Founders Alissa Haight Carlton, Jen DeMartino, and Rebecca Snavely met as freelance casting directors while they were [...]

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    'CBS This Morning' Brings Audience on Set in A.M. Experiment

    Stay out of Gayle King’s way on Wednesday morning. As the clock approaches 8 a.m. tomorrow,  King and her “CBS This Morning” co-hosts, Anthony Mason and Tony Doukopil, will have to whisk themselves from their home studio to another one at the multi-tiered New York broadcast facility that hosts their program. They will have to [...]

  • Isaac Perlmutter Disney Marvel

    Does Kevin Feige's Marvel Promotion Mean Ike Perlmutter's Endgame?

    Last week’s move giving Kevin Feige charge of Marvel’s television, animation and print editorial operations should come as no surprise. As the architect of the company’s enormous film success, Feige arguably has the most enviable track record of any contemporary entertainment executive. Extending his creative control over more of the Marvel universe seems like a [...]

  • WarnerMedia Ups International Comms Exec Oliver

    WarnerMedia Ups International Comms Exec Oliver Herrgesell (EXCLUSIVE)

    WarnerMedia has upped seasoned communications exec Oliver Herrgesell to become executive vice president of communications for WarnerMedia Sales and International. Gerhard Zeiler, WarnerMedia’s chief revenue officer and president of WarnerMedia International Networks, told staff about the change in a memo issued Tuesday. “Oliver has 20 years of experience as a communications and governmental affairs professional, [...]

  • More Than Half of the World's

    More Than Half of the World's New TV Dramas Hail From China

    More than half of the world’s new TV dramas now hail from China, market research firm Ampere Analysis said Tuesday in a new report on global content production over the past six months. In the last half year, top Chinese broadcasters and OTT platforms have commissioned almost 300 new drama series – as many as [...]

  • Banijay Close to Securing $2.2 Billion

    Banijay Close to Securing $2.2 Billion Deal for Endemol Shine

    Banijay Group is on the verge of sealing a deal for production and distribution powerhouse Endemol Shine, sources tell Variety. Vivendi-backed Banijay and Endemol Shine’s joint owners, Disney and Apollo, are understood to have scheduled a meeting for Thursday after talks accelerated in recent days, with Banijay now on the brink of finally closing a [...]

  • Discovery Launching Free Streaming Service Dplay

    Discovery Launching Free Streaming Service Dplay in U.K., Ireland

    Discovery is making a free-streaming play in the U.K. and Ireland with the launch of Dplay. The ad-supported service launches this week. It will be programmed with content from Discovery’s bouquet of free-TV channels in the U.K., which include Quest, Food Network, and former UKTV brands Really and Home. The lineup of launch titles includes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content