A new morning television battle is brewing: Kelly versus Kelly.
NBC executives are increasingly high on adding Megyn Kelly to the "Today" show’s troubled 9 a.m. hour — a move that would pit her against ABC rival, Kelly Ripa, NBC News sources tell MediaBlast.
The addition of Kelly to “Today” would confirm an earlier report in Broadcasting & Cable that the network will offer Kelly the timeslot and clarify that the former Fox News star would join the "Today" family.
Kelly, 46, is expected to replace the current 9 a.m. hosts Al Roker, 62, and Tamron Hall, 46, who would remain with "Today" but be reassigned to a different hour. Roker who appears throughout "Today" is expected to retain his earlier duties. Hall, who substitues for Lester Holt on "Nightly News" also appears on MSNBC.
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An NBC executive with knowledge of the discussions told MediaBlast Thursday that, "nothing has been decided yet."
The third hour of “Today” has been an unstable part of the daily four-hour telecast, but in recent weeks it has become a bright spot in terms of ratings. According to Nielsen, November and December metrics revealed that the third hour of "Today" drew more advertiser-friendly 25-54 year old viewers than its timeslot rival, ABC's "Live With Kelly." Supporters of the hour as it is at NBC say the recent bump has made the final decision to bring in Kelly more difficult.
NBC News boss Andrew Lack is also known to take as much time as possible to mull major changes. "Remember how long that Brian Williams sitution dragged out?" a "Today" staffer not authorized to speak on the record about the show mused.
In terms of hosts, the third hour of "Today" has been a revolving door.
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Last summer following the departure of Natalie Morales and Willie Geist, newcomer Billy Bush lasted only a few rocky weeks. He was brought down quickly by the release of the infamous and offensive bombshell "Access Hollywood" hot-mic video featuring President-elect Donald Trump.
Industry vets believe that Kelly would stand a better chance at success cradled between the more stable hours of "Today." A syndicated daytime show, which many have speculated is part of her deal at NBC is a far risker venture where other, bigger news stars have failed. In recent years the format has dinged the careers of Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira and Anderson Cooper.
Ripa and Kelly know each other too — the former Fox anchor guest co-hosted an edition of "Live" back in November - only weeks before she and NBC dropped their bomb, announcing the opinionated cable host was joining the network.
Her blockbuster deal is believed to be worth close to $20 million a year and include host her own show and a Sunday night program. She is also expected to participate in NBC's coverage major events.
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Critics question Kelly's divisive pesonality and wonder how how smoothly she can make the transition from hosting one of the loudest hours of cable news to understanding how the broad appeal demanded by network viewers.
"She can be pretty abrasive and confrontational," a high-ranking executive at a rival network said of Kelly. "I just don't see how this can work."
NBC brass is betting a small fortune that it will.Send a Letter to the Editor