Megyn Kelly heads to NBC

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Former Fox News host heads to peacock network in a very lucrative deal, getting a Sunday night news magazine and a daily daytime hour

Megyn Kelly, who became a household name in recent years thanks to Donald Trump, is leaving Fox News to become an anchor and host for NBC News, beginning in a few months.

The lucrative deal calls for Kelly to host a Sunday night news magazine and a daily topical hour-long show on NBC. Network officials hasn’t officially said what hour of Kelly’s new shows would occupy.

This is leading to speculation on where Kelly’s show would wind up.

The most likely spot in the 9-10 a.m. where the third hour of Today is, though not confirmed.

For NBC-owned stations (including WMAQ in Chicago) and affiliates, a decision is needed soon as stations usually set their lineups for September by the end of January, after the NATPE convention. One possibility is for the network to take back time, but this scenario is very unlikely with many NBC affiliates contracted to syndicated shows.

Another unlikely scenario is replacing long-running soap Days Of Our Lives. ABC canceled All My Children and One Life To Live in 2011 and the move turned out to be a huge public relations disaster for the network.

Also unlikely is first-run syndication through NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, who already has five daytime talk shows. Early fringe is out, with NBC-owned stations contracted to Ellen DeGeneres’ talker thru 2020. Already, several NBC stations moved Ellen to an earlier time slot last spring in order to expand their local newscasts, such as WNBC in New York and KNBC in Los Angeles.

If Kelly takes over the third hour of Today, she’ll go up against another Kelly – Kelly Ripa and her talk show, which airs at 9 a.m. on most ABC affiliates, including WLS-TV in Chicago. In some markets, the 9 a.m. hour is delayed until 10 a.m. – this includes Milwaukee, whose WTMJ airs local talk show The Morning Blend.

But one advantage going in Kelly’s favor is – and barring any last-minute announcements,  no new syndicated talk show is expected to launch this fall, leaving the freshman field all to herself.

As for Sunday night, Kelly’s newsmagazine would likely debut in 2018 – after the 2017 NFL season concludes, thanks to Sunday Night Football, television’s top-rated show (when the Chicago Bears aren’t featured.)

Megan Kelly’s rise at Fox News has been remarkable – she received her own nightly hour on Fox News Channel, right between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity’s programs, becoming a ratings success. She was also a central figure in the takedown of Roger Ailes – Kelly and other women accused the former CEO of Fox News of sexual harassment, which lead to his departure from the network. She also gained more credibility (and criticism) from sparring with Donald Trump on Twitter after the President-elect criticized her for her moderating skills at the Republican presidential debates.

On the other hand, Kelly has been criticized in some quarters for her reporting on social issues – particularly involving issues of race, where she has been accused of race-baiting. Kelly called First Lady Michelle Obama “a whiner” after she delivered a commencement address at King High School, speaking against racism and other racial inequalities she faced. Kelly dismissed it as a “culture of victimization.”

And her Fox prime-time special – where she lobbed softball questions to Trump – was a ratings and critical failure.

Meanwhile, NBC has plucked off another former Fox News personality – Greta van Susteren and she’ll host her own MSNBC show starting Monday. Fox News meanwhile, has tapped Tucker Carlson to replace Megyn Kelly in primetime also beginning on Monday. As you recall, Carlson was made fun of by then-Daily Show host Jon Stewart when he appeared on Tucker’s CNN ‘s Crossfire in 2005, resulting in cancellation.

Whether the hiring of Kelly or van Susteren “normalizing” their schtick is debatable. But you can’t deny the fact the hiring of these two marks a shift in network news.

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