As expected, NBC pulled the plug on Megyn Kelly Today after thirteen months – though to NBC, it seemed like thirteen years.
NBC is filling the time by extending the actual Today show with other co-hosts and anchors, with the move in effect as on Monday. According to reports, Kelly is negotiating an exit from her NBC contract as she is unlikely to appear on the network anytime soon, if ever.
The cancellation came after Kelly made controversial comments regarding blackface on October 23rd’s show. In an discussion about Halloween costumes, Kelly – who grew up in the predominately white Albany, N.Y. suburb of Delmar, said blackface was “acceptable” when she was growing up as long as “you were in character”.
NBC had hopes to build a brand around Kelly, who was poached from Fox News for $69 million in a three-year contract. But she wasn’t able to shake off baggage from her past – notably racially insensitive comments she made on her Fox News show
Even though Megyn Kelly Today wasn’t a ratings hit, the program attracted a decent amount of advertising revenue – $180 million over the course of her thirteen-moth run according to agency Kantar Media. Clients included Progressive, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, and Citibank as a thirty-second spot on her show ranged anywhere from $13,500 to $18,000. Still, the program lagged in the ratings – especially in Chicago where it trailed WGN Morning News and Live With Kelly & Ryan on WLS-TV.
The decision to drop Kelly due to her comments was simple – make a move before affiliates and advertisers (including those mentioned above) started voicing concern – similar to ABC pulling the plug on Roseanne after the show’s star sent racially and anti-Semitic tweets.
In 2003, Rush Limbaugh was removed from ESPN Sunday Countdown pre-game show after making similar remarks on-air about African-American quarterbacks – especially the Philadelphia Eagles’ Donovan McNabb. Like Kelly, Limbaugh also had a history of making racially-tinged comments, mostly on his nationally syndicated radio show.
Given the history of Kelly’s comments – especially regarding the African-American community, you’d think something like this would have an effect of advertising revenue on her show. Instead, there were a lot of blue-chip clients connected to Kelly – despite them. This is really concerning – and very disappointing.