NBC wants Megyn Kelly to host a second hour on Today

Programing executives at NBC want Megyn Kelly to manage and produce a second hour of its flagship morning program, Today — and they want her to get political. The network’s executives think that they are underutilizing Kelly, who is one of the nation’s preeminent political news journalists. She has focused her program, Megyn Kelly Today, on women’s issues early in her tenure and has produced pioneering coverage in the area of sexual harassment.

It is widely agreed among programing experts that Kelly could attract a considerably larger audience to Today by reviving her trademark political brand in a daytime format, still allowing her to cultivate a human interest oriented program at 9 o’clock, while expanding her reach into daytime at 10 o’clock.

“That 10 o’clock hour should be generating as much advertising revenue as The View generates at 11 o’clock on ABC.  It could be a very lucrative stand-alone franchise spun out of Today, the NBC employee told The Chronicle.  “We have one of the top minds in American politics working for us and she doesn’t cover any politics.”

Kelly shocked the media world late last summer when she signed a $20 million-a-year contract, and announced that she would pivot her personal brand away from politics and towards human interest topics.  Her nine o’clock program was poorly rolled out by the network, but has made steady gains in audience size and has attracted considerable media attention.

The ‘concept,’ as a source at NBC describes it, would give Kelly the program’s ten o’clock hour, which is currently co-hosted by Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford.  The program would resemble the political talk and current events format of ABC’s The View, and Kelly would be named Executive Producer.

That would presumably give Kelly control of which NBC personalities will join her at that table — giving her a Barbara Walters-like stature at the network.  Even so, it’s hard to imagine Kelly excluding Kotb and Gifford from that table.

Other names that have been floated in internal discussions for the five spot panel are Katie Couric (who will be leading NBC’s coverage of the Olympics later this year) and Carole Simmons, the former anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. 

Some critics say that the program’s longest tenured personality, Al Roker, should receive top billing during the the program’s first two hours, with Kotb and Guthrie at his side.  Guthrie was named as Ann Curry’s replacement at the behest of Matt Lauer, but critics argue that she may lack the stature to hold the program’s top spot.

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