Viewers have wait-and-see at­ti­tude to­ward Kelly

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK | Af­ter her brassy start at NBC News, viewers are tak­ing a wait-and-see at­ti­tude to­ward Megyn Kelly in an­tic­i­pa­tion of her big test this fall.

Her news­magazine ended its eight-episode sum­mer run last week­end, fea­tur­ing Ms. Kelly’s in­ter­view with comic Ricky Ger­vais. That’s a light sign-off af­ter her newsy de­but in June in­ter­view­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Ms. Kelly’s show isn’t as pop­u­lar as its pre­de­ces­sor in the time slot, “Date­line NBC,” and es­tab­lished the omi­nous trend of los­ing viewers from the week be­fore with every episode.

But NBC pro­nounces it­self pleased, and points to Ms. Kelly’s range in con­duct­ing in­ter­views with Mr. Putin, ESPN’s Erin Andrews, “Hill­billy El­egy” au­thor J.D. Vance, TV per­son­al­ity Maria Me­nounos, con­ser­va­tive fire­brand Alex Jones and women who work at Sil­i­con Val­ley firms.

Now the for­mer Fox News Chan­nel an­chor turns her at­ten­tion to the more im­por­tant part of NBC’s in­vest­ment: a one-hour week­day morn­ing show that pre­mieres on Sept. 25.

“Our in­ten­tion was to do some re­ally good jour­nal­ism, and I think we did, to do some fun pieces, and I think we did that, and to give Megyn a chance to do some pieces and she re­ally came through for us in great style,” said David Corvo, NBC News ex­ec­u­tive in charge of news­magazines.

Her in­ter­view with Mr. Jones at­tracted the most at­ten­tion, with crit­ics won­der­ing why NBC gave a plat­form to some­one who ques­tioned whether the Sandy Hook school shoot­ings took place. The in­ter­view that aired was tougher than a pro­mo­tional clip dis­trib­uted early in the week had led peo­ple to be­lieve.

The de­but of “Sun­day Night” with Mr. Putin reached 6.2 mil­lion viewers and this past Sun­day’s episode, which aired op­po­site “Game of Thrones,” had 2.85 mil­lion. The show has av­er­aged 3.71 mil­lion viewers, down 10 per­cent from “Date­line NBC” on Sun­days last sum­mer, the Nielsen com­pany said. A re­peat “Date­line” re­run that aired on July 2 reached more viewers than all but the first episode of “Sun­day Night.”

Yet tele­vi­sion view­ing is off in gen­eral. CBS’ “60 Min­utes,” which airs in the same time slot as Ms. Kelly, has dropped 15 per­cent in viewership over the same pe­riod, Nielsen said.

“I don’t think you can say it’s a fail­ure at all,” said Brian Wieser, an­a­lyst at the Piv­otal Re­search Group. “It’s way too early to say it’s a fail­ure. It’s safe to say she hasn’t hit a home run yet.”

Marc Ber­man, ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of the Pro­gram­ming Insider news­let­ter, said he thinks NBC did Ms. Kelly no fa­vors by putting her on the air dur­ing the lit­tle-watched sum­mer months op­po­site the well-es­tab­lished “60 Min­utes.” Bet­ter to air it in a time slot be­hind a more pop­u­lar show — “Amer­ica’s Got Ta­lent,” per­haps? — or sim­ply build an­tic­i­pa­tion so she starts at NBC with her morn­ing show, he said. In­stead, she goes into the fall with ques­tions about her pop­u­lar­ity, he said.

Mr. Corvo said an­other time slot wasn’t con­sid­ered, pri­mar­ily be­cause Sun­day evenings at 7 p.m. has been the home of a news show for more than two decades on NBC.

There’s also some­thing to be said for giv­ing Ms. Kelly ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­po­sure in a dif­fer­ent role than she played at Fox, be­fore her morn­ing show starts.

“I don’t know if the au­di­ences are the same,” Mr. Corvo said. “I think that NBC News viewers who didn’t know who she was, who sam­pled the pro­gram, will have a very pos­i­tive view of her be­cause I think the sto­ries she did were re­ally strong.”

Ms. Kelly brought bag­gage with her to NBC. She’s caught in the mid­dle between peo­ple who don’t like Fox and re­gard her with sus­pi­cion, while some Fox fans har­bor bit­ter­ness for her tough ques­tion­ing of Don­ald Trump in a pres­i­den­tial de­bate. Mr. Trump’s at­tacks led to a sharp in­crease in gen­eral aware­ness of Ms. Kelly, said Henry Schafer, spokesman for Mar­ket­ing Eval­u­a­tions Inc., whose widely fol­lowed “Q” score mea­sures the pop­u­lar­ity of pub­lic fig­ures.

The com­pany’s most re­cent mea­sure­ment, from ear­lier this year be­fore she started at NBC, showed Ms. Kelly with a pos­i­tive “Q” score of 8, be­low the av­er­age of 10 for tele­vi­sion personalities, Mr. Schafer said. Her neg­a­tive score was 38, well above the av­er­age of 22, he said. Ms. Kelly’s scores are worse among women, and women make up the bulk of the avail­able au­di­ence for her morn­ing show.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.