This is not proving to be a great week for NBC.
Along with allegations that it demurred on breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Megyn Kelly is back in the news.
Turns out she is proving to be a very expensive drag on NBC’s ratings, according to a report in Page Six today.
Page Six claims that not only is viewership for Kelly’s hour down 32 percent compared to the same time slot a year ago, but that the following show, Kathie Lee & Hoda, is also suffering, down 26 percent, as viewers desert the network.
Kelly’s pay packet has been rumored to be some $23 million per year.
And it’s starting to look like a very expensive mistake.
“They’ve taken a huge hit with Megyn as their lead-in,” an insider told Page Six of Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb’s morning show, adding that it had previously been a “bright spot” for NBC.
“Too many people are tuning out NBC… people are alarmed,” the source said of the slide.
Another source told Page Six that Today talent is concerned, saying, “The format for Megyn’s show doesn’t make sense. Her show distracts from the Today franchise.”
According to a report by DailyMailTV, NBC executives not involved in the hiring of the former Fox News host have said that her salary is “obscene” and a “slap in the face” to other NBC veteran stars
If the $23 million figure is correct, it means that Kelly’s remuneration package is bested only by Matt Lauer, who has been at NBC for 23 years, and has an estimated salary of $25 million.
Jimmy Fallon, who hosts NBC’s flagship late-night show, earns around $15 million.
Kelly’s first week on Today has come in for heavy criticism.
The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon described her interview with Debra Messing as marked by “the plastic enthusiasm of someone who had not seen a minute of Will & Grace until her assistant showed her the J. Lo clip on her iPad in the green room before the cast came out.”
Debra Messing subsequently took to Instagram to say she regretted doing the interview, and hinted that she never would have agreed to it had she known it was Kelly who would be conducting it.
In her first week, Kelly asked Jane Fonda about her plastic-surgery history.
Fonda replied: “We’re really going to talk about that now?”
However, NBC high-ups say they are still behind their hire.
One insider told Page Six: “Megyn posted her highest ratings yet in the ‘key demographic’ on Monday, and she had her biggest total viewer number since the premiere... Everyone knows that ratings fluctuate at the start of a new show, and there has been nothing but support for Megyn from all of the ‘Today’ show hosts. They have each taken her out to lunch — Kathie Lee just took her to lunch today.”