Megyn Kelly’s new stint at NBC News could include taking over the third hour of the broadcaster’s lucrative “Today” franchise, TheWrap has learned.
A rep for NBC News doesn’t deny the possibility of moving the soon-to-be former Fox News star into the timeslot, simply stating that the timing of Kelly’s new gig has not yet been determined. The network’s press release to announce Kelly’s deal said she “will become anchor of a new one hour daytime program that she will develop closely with NBC News colleagues.”
If Kelly does, indeed, replace the third hour of “Today,” it is unclear if it would be a newly branded show or if the network would simply plop Kelly into the already existing format — and use much of the current staff for the 9 a.m. hour. A combo of the two options makes sense, so that the existing infrastructure could remain in place.
Kelly’s representatives did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
“Today” has had issues with the 9 a.m. hour for quite some time, highlighted by the firing of Billy Bush last October for his role in a hot-mic incident with Donald Trump from his days as host of “Access Hollywood.” “Today” doesn’t even include the third hour in its ratings releases, sticking to the 7-9 a.m. because rivals “CBS This Morning” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” are on the air during that time.
The first two hours of “Today,” hosted by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, aren’t going anywhere. The fourth hour, hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, is a fan favorite. Al Roker and Tamron Hall have done a nice job maintaing the third hour since Bush was fired, but adding Kelly to the mix makes a lot of sense.
Kelly turned down $100 million from Fox News, and the financial terms of the NBC deal have not been disclosed. But it’s safe to assume she didn’t turn down $100 million for chump change, and from an economic standpoint, Kelly would have to truly make an impact to be worth the investment for NBC.
Taking over the third hour of “Today,” if successful, could generate the impact that NBCUniversal News Group chairman Andrew Lack has been craving and help shore up one of the network’s biggest profit centers in the midst of heightened competition.
During the fourth quarter of 2016, “Today” averaged 4.57 million total viewers, losing to “GMA,” which averaged 4.66 million. However, among the key news demo of adults age 25-54, “Today” beat “GMA” with 1.78 million viewers compared to 1.53 million.
Also, having Kelly host the 9 p.m. ET hour of “Today” would also keep her close by, allowing her to assist with breaking news coverage that pops up during any portion of the four-hour long program. The “Today” show lost former third-hour host and news anchor Natalie Morales last summer when she moved to Los Angeles to work on a variety of NBC projects, including “Access Hollywood.”
There are signs that Kelly could be as big a draw in the morning as she was in prime time.
Kelly guest co-hosted a November episode of “Live! With Kelly [Ripa]” episode, which scored the show’s best household rating since Michael Strahan left the show last spring to joing “Today” rival “Good Morning America.” The national syndicated show starts at 9 a.m. in a lot of markets and is direct competition with the third hour of “Today.”