Anyone doubting Roger Ailes' eye for talent needs to go somewhere else besides his shuffling of Fox News's weekday evening lineup, especially but not exclusively his decision to move Megyn Kelly into the 9 p.m. time slot.
Variety's Brian Steinberg reports that Kelly has put even more distance between Fox and its so-called competitors at CNN, MSNBC, and HLN, while Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity have both grown their respective time slots (HT Johnny Dollar's Place; bolds are mine):
The Fox News Channel primetime lineup has long won more viewers than programming offered by its cable-news competitors, but the network’s “The Kelly File” is doing something extraordinary.
The 9 p.m. program, anchored by Megyn Kelly, delivered an average of nearly 2.5 million viewers and an average of 430,000 in the demographic preferred by sponsors of news programming between October 28 and November 24 - more than the combined average of time-slot competitors on CNN, MSNBC and HLN. “Kelly File”debuted October 7.
According to Nielsen, “Kelly File” lured an average of 2,495,000 viewers in that time period, compared with an average of 454,000 for CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live,” 914,000 for MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and 259,000 for HLN’s “Dr. Drew” and the network’s Friday-night “Mystery Detectives.” Among audiences between the ages of 25 and 54, “Kelly’s” average of 430,000 compares with an average of 114,000 for “Piers Morgan Live,” 224,000 for “Rachel Maddow” and 85,000 for “Dr. Drew” and “Mystery Detectives.”
The numbers lend some ballast to the recent decision at Fox News Channel to rejigger a primetime lineup that had not changed in more than 11 years. As part of that October shuffle, “Kelly File” took up residence at 9 p.m., while that time-slot’s previous occupant, “Hannity” moved to 10 p.m. and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” moved to 7 p.m. from 10 p.m.
According to figures from Nielsen, in the third quarter, “The Kelly File, “On The Record” and “Hannity” – all holding forth in new time slots – have increased viewership in audience between the ages of 25 and 54 in the double-digit percentage range: “Kelly File” and “On The Record,” scheduled at 9 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, have seen those ratings increase 29%, while “Hannity,” now airing at 10 p.m., has seen its ratings in the demo increase 26%, all when compared to the third quarter of 2013.
Kelly's "competition" comes from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, HLN's Dr. Drew, and CNN's Piers Morgan. To identify one specific example, on November 18 Kelly outdrew the other three by 405,000 to 362,000 in the 25-54 demographic (Maddow was the highest of the other three at 200,000), and by 2.494 million to 1.335 million overall (Maddow, at 768,000, less than one-third of Kelly's audience, was also the highest of the three others).
I would submit that Kelly's popularity has almost nothing to do with whether or not she is "conservative" or tilts her show in that direction. Instead, I believe it more to do with the fact that her show breaks news or brings visibility to situations which should be news and for whatever reason aren't. Morgan and Maddow's shows are typically little more than prime-time soapboxes and discussions with people with whom the hosts agree.
What follows are recaps of a few of NewsBusters' more recent Kelly-related posts.
On November 14 ("ObamaCare Architect Ezekiel Emanuel: Website Disaster Actually Fault of Fox News") -- Kelly went toe-to-toe with "Zeke the Bleak," who obviously was desperate to find someone outside of the incompetent Obama administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to blame for the non-working, completely insecure HealthCare.gov.
On November 6 ("Insurance Cos. in Calif. Had to Cancel Non-Compliant Policies to Be in State Exchange"), Kelly had reporter Trace Gallagher tell her audience that Covered California demanded that any insurance company wishing to participate on the state's Obamacare exchange had to cancel all of its individual plans. It may be out there somewhere, but to this day I don't recall seeing any establishment press outlet mention this astonishing situation, which reeks of authoritarianism and certainly lacks in compassion.
On October 29 ("Megyn Kelly Reminds Viewers: Obama Said You Can Keep Your 'Acme' High-Deductible Plan"), Kelly reminded viewers and Obamacare apologist Frank Pallone (D-NJ), with video proof, that President Obama promised that people who had what the administration considered inferior plans ("Acme Health Insurance") could nevertheless keep them.
Kelly is popular because she has newsmakers on her show. She allows them to speak their minds, but cuts them no slack, and takes no guff. She's also has an extraordinarily alert and sensitive BS detector, and shines the light of truth on such BS when it occurs. No wonder she's mopping the floor Maddow and Morgan.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.