Megyn's stunt was no hit
The highly promoted face-off between Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones on Kelly's NBC show Sunday night was not only much ado about nothing – it was a ratings dud, too. And ratings were its purpose. The foil – the alpha male poster boy for alt-right conspiracy theories – Jones – was set up to be challenged and presumably taken down by Kelly, the I-can-have-it-all new golden girl of NBC News.
But something happened on the way to a hit show: Kelly emerged as a surprisingly less than appealing host/interrogator up against a combatant, Jones, who has been universally disparaged (by the MSM) as an unpopular, unseemly, and "dangerous" man. This fight card spelled ratings disaster. The show just wasn't very watchable, not least because, by the time it was subjected to NBC News's slice-and-dice editing, it no longer seemed real or anything like a fair fight.
Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones, Austin, Texas, June 6, 2017
Kelly, in her third outing on NBC Sunday nights, was desperate for a ratings win. Unfortunately for her, when the official ratings were released on Monday, June 19, the numbers told the tale. As The Hill reported in its article, "Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones interview a ratings flop," Kelly's show with Jones "ended up a distant third" against the competition during its first half hour.
According to Nielsen Media Research, "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" brought in an average of 3.5 million viewers, marking the fewest viewers the show has drawn since debuting on June 4.
Kelly's news magazine trailed both a repeat episode of CBS's "60 Minutes," which delivered 5.3 million viewers, and U.S. Open golf coverage on Fox, which was the highest-rated program in the 7:00 p.m. ET timeslot.
Among the key 18 to 49-year-old demographic that advertisers covet most, a re-run of ABC's ""America's Funniest Home Videos" beat Kelly and "60 Minutes" by almost 40 percent.
Kelly's program has been declining week-over-week from a rating perspective since launching three weeks ago with an episode featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin that registered an average of 6.2 million viewers.
Kelly's show with Jones did get mostly positive reviews, but that's largely because Kelly took on the mainstream media's "most hated man," which couldn't help but win over most of the country's television reviewers. In the eyes of the mainstream media, the Kelly-Jones smackdown had rough P.R. equivalence of President Bush the elder versus Saddam Hussein following the invasion of Kuwait.
It has turned out to be more difficult than anticipated for NBC to leverage Megyn Kelly's ratings success at the Fox News channel to the entirely different environment of network television broadcast news, whose work environments and audiences trend farther to the left than Fox News's.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on what's ahead in coming months for Kelly at NBC – assuming that her career at the peacock network even lasts that long.
Over at the cable news channels, meanwhile, the official weekly stats (M-F June 12-16) will not be out until Tuesday, June 20, but the daily ratings reveal that a real fight for ratings supremacy is shaping up as a seesawing day-to-day contest.
The daily cable news ratings headlines for Monday through Friday of the week, as reported by TVNewser, which cites the official Nielsen ratings, are as follows:
In addition to finishing No. 1 in total prime time viewers, MSNBC won every hour from 8 through 11 p.m. in the demo [viewers ages 25-54].
Rachel Maddow had the most-watched show on cable news Thursday in both total viewers and the A25-54 demo.
Sean Hannity, who hosted his show from the baseball field where yesterday's shooting transpired, finished No. 1 in the prime time demo and in total viewers.
On [Atty. Gen. Jeff] Sessions Day, Sean Hannity had the most-watched show of the night, while Rachel Maddow was No. 1 in the prime time demo.
MSNBC is once again No. 1 in the key prime time demo, while Fox News is tops in total viewers.
It may be assumed that executives at the three cable TV news channels are watching the ratings very closely. A small shift or realignment in the ratings can mean life or death for a program and a host and big differences in earnings for a channel.
Between 2001 and the spring of 2017, the Fox News Channel, under the leadership of co-founder Roger Ailes (1940-2017) for most of that time, was the consistent ratings winner over CNN and MSNBC. That lead started to erode with the schedule changes that followed the firing of Fox News's most popular host, Bill O'Reilly, last April. Since then, it has been anyone's guess which program or channel would win its time slot.