NBC demotes Megyn Kelly’s struggling Sunday night show to ‘periodic’ airings only

Megyn Kelly’s Sunday night newsmagazine on NBC was originally billed as a weekly program, but has been demoted to a program that will air “periodically,” according to a press release sent Tuesday by the network.

"Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" had an eight-episode run in the summer of 2017 to kick off Kelly’s tour at the Peacock Network before her 9 a.m. ET daily show premiered in the fall. “Sunday Night” struggled to gain an audience, averaging 3.7 million total viewers during its initial eight-week run. The show typically lost to 7 p.m. broadcast competition such as “60 Minutes” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

The newsmagazine was also beset by bad publicity, including harsh criticism of Kelly’s interview with alt-right provocateur Alex Jones. The ratings-challenged Sunday show was always scheduled to take a break for NBC’s coverage of “Sunday Night Football” and the Winter Olympics but was expected to return.  

NBC News sent a press release touting Kelly’s upcoming hour-long primetime special with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday and media watchdogs were quick to notice a sentence at the end of the release.

“This special marks the return of the weekend primetime newsmagazines Kelly will anchor periodically this spring and summer until football season,” the release stated, adding that it is “dependent on Kelly’s schedule with her weekday morning program.”

NBC News did not respond to request for comment.

Variety senior television editor Brian Steinberg quickly picked up on the scheduling change and tweeted the news. 

“'Sunday Night’ premiered last June to mixed reviews and modest ratings,” Variety managing editor Cynthia Littleton wrote. “There had been speculation that ‘Sunday Night’ would not return in the same format after last summer’s eight-episode initial run.”  

Kelly has been involved in a series of high-profile gaffes since joining NBC, including clashing with Jane Fonda, not being chosen to represent NBC at the Olympics, rumors of a toxic culture at her show and reportedly irking executives by attempting to book former “E! News” host Catt Sadler after Sadler walked away from her gig on NBC’s sister station because of gender wage gap issues. In addition, former head writer Kevin Bleyer was fired after sending an email to the show’s staff alleging a chaotic and abusive workplace. 

Media analyst and DePauw University professor Jeff McCall told Fox News earlier this year that “NBC brass needs to better figure out how to utilize Kelly.”

Kelly, a former Fox News host, reportedly makes $23 million per year at NBC, where she recently took part in the network’s State of the Union coverage. Her upcoming sitdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin and partaking in NBC’s coverage of Trump’s State of the Union are signs that NBC is figuring how to properly use its high-paid star after “Megyn Kelly Today” launched with mixed reviews.

Several former and current colleagues of Kelly recently came to her defense after a damaging report was published.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.