With less than four weeks before the Sept. 25 debut of Megyn Kelly Today, some insiders at NBC are expressing their doubts that the former Fox News anchor will be able to transform herself from her stern persona at Fox into a more female-friendly personality for the network’s ethnically diverse daytime viewership, according to The Daily Beast.
That fear is partly based on the fact that Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly flopped this summer and was pulled from its limited summer run on July 30 two episodes shy of its expected 10. NBC executives apparently thought that airing the show on Sunday evenings in the summer would give the morning show a boost by introducing Kelly to the network’s viewers, but it backfired badly as it frequently finished behind repeats of ‘60’ Minutes and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
In preparation for her debut, Kelly has been contributing to Today, attending schmooze-fests with NBC affiliate general managers and on-air talent and even throwing out the first pitch at a Durham Bulls game.
Officially NBC News spins a positive message about the show, which is to be expected considering the investment they have made in Kelly. But not everyone is so upbeat.
Yet, according to network insiders, her new role is prompting “questions internally about who her audience is exactly” as well as a sense of “total panic” concerning the intense media scrutiny that will unavoidably attend the launch of Megyn Kelly Today, to say nothing of the need to publicly vindicate NBC News Chairman Andy Lack’s $17 million gamble (reportedly her eye-popping annual compensation) when he wooed her away from Fox.
Kelly came to NBC News fresh off her star turn at Fox News, but some of the sheen has worn off after her Sunday show flop. Now she faces the task of adapting from serving as host for a hard-news oriented show in prime time that attracted a mostly male audience to a daytime show with softer news and features and a mostly female audience.
She will have one advantage that she didn’t on her Sunday evening show and that’s the lead-in from the Today show which is the No. 1 show in the key A25-54 demographic that advertisers crave.
If she can’t hold or improve on that number, then NBC’s gamble will have come up snake eyes.