After months of much-hyped feuding between Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Kelly promised “an electric exchange” between the two in a prime-time broadcast special on Tuesday night.
But, despite that promise and the lengthy lead-up, the debut of Megyn Kelly presents on Fox fizzled both in terms of content and ratings. Kelly’s first prime-time special failed to deliver anything resembling a revealing interview with Trump, with whom she has often publicly clashed over the past nine months before their convenient make-nice meeting last month that paved the way for Tuesday’s sit-down. The resulting program—which also featured one-on-one interviews with actor Michael Douglas, transgender actress Laverne Cox, and attorney Robert Shapiro—attracted an audience that outpaced Fox’s (FOX) typical Tuesday night drawing but still fell well short of rival networks’ offerings.
According to preliminary estimates from Nielsen, Kelly’s special averaged nearly 4.7 million viewers during the 8 p.m. hour Tuesday night, along with a 0.8 rating among the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49. Those numbers easily beat what Kelly typically draws for her Fox News show, which averaged 2.3 million viewers per show last month, and it also more than doubled the 2.3 million viewers who tuned into Fox to watch last Tuesday’s episode of New Girl.
But, Megyn Kelly Presents still only handed Fox a distant third-place finish among broadcast networks in its time-slot last night, as the show fell well short of the 8.9 million people who tuned in for NBC’s new episode of The Voice and the whopping 17.6 million who watched the NCIS season finale on CBS (CBS).
Kelly and Fox were likely hoping for a bigger audience for the anchor’s first prime-time special, especially considering the contentions between Kelly and Trump, as well as the fact that those two previously helped earn ratings gold for Fox News during the network’s GOP debates. Last night was also supposed to be a major step in Kelly’s attempt to establish herself as a major prime-time interviewer in the vein of the semi-retired Barbara Walters—a goal that Kelly admitted is in her sights when talking with the New York Times over the weekend—though, as Vanity Fair pointed out on Wednesday, even that category has produced diminishing returns in recent years amid evolving television viewing habits.