Megyn Kelly to Depart Fox News for NBC News

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Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Credit: Fox News

Megyn Kelly will be departing Fox News, cable's No. 1 TV network last year, to join NBC News.

As part of the multi-year agreement, Ms. Kelly will anchor a new one-hour daytime program, which she will develop in conjunction with NBC News staffers. The show will air Monday through Friday at a time to be announced in the coming months. Ms. Kelly will also anchor a new Sunday evening news magazine show and will become a contributor to NBC's breaking news coverage as well as the network's political and special events coverage.

The move is likely to be a boon for NBC ratings and puts a hole in the Fox News primetime lineup. After starting as a corporate lawyer then moving to journalism covering local and national stories for a Washington, D.C., TV station, Ms. Kelly has risen to host cable's No. 2 news program, "The Kelly File." The show is regularly watched by about 2.7 million people, following only Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" among cable news shows. "O'Reilly" pulls about 3.3 million total viewers.

Ms. Kelly's departure isn't good for Fox News, but neither does the network depend on one person or show. Cable news isn't likely to bring in the same record-breaking audiences as it did during the presidential campaign, but at least in the near term Fox News is likely to benefit from the heavy focus on the incoming Trump administration.

Ms. Kelly, who joined Fox News more than a decade ago, became one of the most prominent news anchors of the 2016 presidential election.

She was thrown into the center of the election after moderating the first GOP debate in August 2015. During the broadcast, which drew a cable non-sports record of 24 million viewers, Ms. Kelly challenged Donald Trump on his history of offensive remarks about women. The exchange opened a fire hose of bluster and insults by the candidate that only elevated Ms. Kelly.

Then during the March Republican debate, she called out Mr. Trump for flip-flopping on several issues, showing a video of the nominee contradicting himself on Afghanistan and whether to accept refugees from the Middle East. She also aggressively questioned him about litigation against the defunct Trump University.

And in May she conducted a much publicized one-on-one interview with Mr. Trump that aired in primetime on Fox's broadcast network. While the audience wasn't huge and any potential fireworks were tamped down, it laid the groundwork for Ms. Kelly to add or pivot to "event" interview specials beyond the cable news realm.

Ms. Kelly's exit is the latest upheaval at Fox News following the departure of former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who was ousted in September after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a suit against Mr. Ailes alleging that he sexually harassed her. He denies the allegtions.

Still, Fox News was the most-watched cable network in 2016 in both primetime and total day, topping ESPN. The network averaged 2.4 million total viewers in primetime during the year, making it the channel's most-watched year ever.

Ms. Kelly addressed her departure in a post on Facebook:

Over a dozen years ago I started at Fox News in a job that would change my life. Now, I have decided to end my time at FNC, incredibly enriched for the experiences I've had. I have agreed to join NBC News, where I will be launching a new daytime show Monday through Friday, along with a Sunday evening news magazine program. I will also participate in NBC's breaking news coverage and its political and special events coverage.

While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge. I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the FNC viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters. More to come soon.

Beyond TV news, Ms. Kelly is co-producing six half-hour episodes of a scripted political comedy called "Embeds," which has been picked up by Verizon's Go90 streaming video service.

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