NBC’s Megyn Kelly Gambit…

Variety’s Brian Steinberg lists some of the potential pitfalls facing NBC and its soon to be newest employee…

And yet, Kelly’s current halo does not necessarily mean she can also triumph over splintered broadcast-TV audiences and tired formats. Those are hurdles she and NBC will have to leap over in the months to come.

NBC said it intends to place Kelly in a new Monday-through-Friday daytime hour set to launch sometime over the coming year. To accomplish that feat, NBC would have to either take time from the four hours it already devotes to its “Today” morning franchise, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue; negotiate with affiliates for strong placement of a syndicated hour; or test something in the early evening, where it distributes “Access Hollywood.” Meanwhile, a Sunday newsmagazine would likely run for a limited cycle, as the network already devotes a good portion of its Sunday lineup to “Sunday Night Football,” one of TV’s most-watched programs.

But this is the biggest one in my opinion…

Launching a new, sustainable newsmagazine has also been tricky in recent years, as NBC learned when it debuted “Rock Center” with Brian Williams in 2011. That effort also lasted two seasons before being cancelled due to low ratings. NBC more recently tried “On Assignment,” an effort produced by its “Dateline” staff that relies more heavily on stories of adventure and innovation that on the murder tales viewers have come to expect from the parent show.

“In recent years”?!?

NBC has a long and distinguished history of failed attempts at news magazine shows. Even Dateline originally debuted in a vastly different form than it has today.

Left untouched in this article are two very interesting subjects…

1. Why was MSNBC conspicuously absent from any mention? I can think of two reasons and their initials are BW and RM. Say what you will about the decision but MSNBC has deliberately positioned the network as the home of Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow. Bringing in Megyn Kelly, even if she had the bandwidth to take on the assignment (something I seriously doubt given the daytime show), would totally upset that apple cart.

2. The pecking order on Nightly News – This is not an issue in the near to mid-term. Lester Holt isn’t going anywhere for at least five years provided ratings hold. But his successor is now going to be a little more of an open question than it was yesterday. The conventional wisdom was Savannah Guthrie would succeed Holt, provided NBC was comfortable with losing her on the from more financially lucrative Today Show in a post Matt Lauer era. But add in Kelly to the mix and the equation could potentially change…provided NBC’s gambit on Kelly pays off…and that is anything but guaranteed.

I always thought that of the three broadcast networks CBS was the best choice for Kelly, followed by NBC. ABC seems pretty set for the next decade and beyond with David Muir.

10 Responses to “NBC’s Megyn Kelly Gambit…”

  1. A semi-interesting point (for me at least) is that of all the TV ‘news’ celebs who have changed channels/networks voluntarily and involuntarily how many actually ended up better off at their new destination when based solely on a higher (or similar) profile (as opposed to more money, which is not unimportant of course).

    Glenn Beck going from HLN to FNC in 2009 and Norah O’Donnell moving from MSNBC to CBS in 2012 definitely
    qualified as having a higher profile at their new digs.

    But how many others?

    What about all these? Do they really have a higher profile at their new ‘home’?

    Jake Tapper (ABC to CNN)
    Ed Henry (CNN to Fox News)
    John Stossel (ABC to Fox Business)
    Lou Dobbs (CNN to Fox Business)
    Kiran Chetry (Fox News to CNN)
    John Roberts (CNN to Fox News)
    Bill Weir (ABC to CNN)
    David Gregory (NBC to CNN)
    Elisabeth Hasselbeck (The View 2.5M viewers to F&F only 1M)
    Alisyn Camerota (suspect she had more viewers at Fox News)

    I rarely watch the business channels (FBN & CNBC), so I am kind of out on a limb here. But I wonder if the talented Maria Bartiromo, Liz Claman and/or Melissa Francis had larger audiences before they moved to FBN. Just askin’. 🙂

  2. Steinberg makes the same arguments I made in my first comment here in the first ‘Kelly to NBC’ post – how does NBC make this deal work for them. It’s a big gamble and past history shows it rarely succeeds.

    “Why was MSNBC conspicuously absent from any mention?”

    ^^I don’t expect Megyn Kelly to appear on MSNBC anymore than I expect to see Lester Holt or Matt Lauer on MSNBC. She may appear on occasion promoting her new shows or a book but her schedule seems pretty full at the moment.

    “I can think of two reasons and their initials are BW and RM…. MSNBC has deliberately positioned the network as the home of Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow.”

    ^^I agree Brian Williams may look at Kelly as competition as he is already barely on the network anymore – let alone NBC. He only appears on his 1/2 hour post LOD show at the moment.

    I don’t think Maddow will be anything but happy to see MK arrive at NBC. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me to see her make her first MSNBC appearance on TRMS. Maddow & Kelly know and like each other and whoever replaces Megyn at FNC will likely not get the ratings Kelly got, which only helps Maddow. And if Kelly does bomb at NBC and needs a PT landing spot on MSNBC Rachel Maddow has the least by far to worry about of the three PT hosts.

  3. danoregon Says:

    I can’t think of anyone who successfully left Fox News – or any cable news net for broadcast. Part of it is the money. You may get more money in broadcast, but less airtime and suddenly people forget about you. Part of it is how “tribal” cable news nets are. Once you leave the “tribe” – people disown you.
    Kelly hasn’t done much in the field, don’t know how much she’s done outside the U.S. (or New York for that matter).

  4. I don’t think Kelly had any desire to be on MSNBC. She doesn’t want primetime (except taped on Sundays during the NFL off season) and daytime MSNBC is definitely a step down from Fox News Primetime in terms of prestige.

    The time slot that makes the most sense for Kelly is 4 pm. It will be a battle to clear it with all the affiliates. They could (and really should anyway) move Kathie Lee & Hoda to the 9am hour of Today and give the 10 am hour back to affiliates as compensation. If Kelly pulls in Oprah style buzz she would be a better lead-in to the five o’clock local news than what stations have now, which is mostly more local news. Even if they started Kelly on the owned and operated stations, that could be worth NBCU’s investment.

  5. Forgot to add that NBC won’t worry too much about moving Savannah to Nightly News if they can put Hoda as co-anchor of TODAY. There’s also the buzz that Katie or Meredith would come back, too.

  6. Tucker Carlson gets Megyn Kelly time slot. Well so much for all that speculation on which female FNC host/reporter would get the MK time slot.

    I’m no Carlson fan but he fits with the now obvious pro Trump 24/7 direction Fox News is now headed. I expect Trump and his crew will be a frequent guests on most (the exception may be Mike Wallace’s show) FNC shows; where they will be feted with an endless series of softball questions and flattery. The only question is what happens when Trump inevitably attacks the Republican establishment. My guess Fox News sticks with ‘The Donald’.

  7. How’s a Sunday night show going to work when NBC is airing NASCAR races and football games half the year?

    I could see Megyn Kelly on MSNBC from time to time, but not every day. Probably for special reports. MSNBC has a history of having NBC personalities anchor MSNBC news coverage for major events — and given that Brian Williams doesn’t appear for breaking news anymore, I could see Megyn on there some.

    I don’t know how Fox News can stay at #1 for the next four (eight, probably) years of Trump. For starters, they own a lot of what happens now. They’re not going to be an angry resistance against the government network like they have been. Even worse, the incoming President of the United States tells Americans to watch Fox News for truth. They’re nothing but state run media now.

  8. Say what you will about the decision but MSNBC has deliberately positioned the network as the home of Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow.

    So, where’s Brian Williams?

    I know they promote the 11th Hour heavily, but Brian Williams isn’t on for breaking news ever anymore. And Nicolle Wallace has been on The 11th Hour this week, which is fine with me.

  9. She was brought in with a huge salary providing with the platform she had on Fox she was promised something. NBC has plans for her, she will probably be groomed to replace Matt Lauer. The ratings on the Today show has stagnated and NBC has been plotting for the last five years to replace Lauer. I am sure NBC wants to refresh their Today show brand, but since Lauer wants to run things like a mob boss they can’t make the changes they want. Lauer signed for two years not a long term contract so NBC will probably use him temporarily until they do changes they want. The news magazine format, it is hard to do cause people already have a loyal audience to these shows. It is hard to create a new audience to a news magazine format.

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