Megyn Kelly’s controversial, endlessly-dissected interview with Infowars founder Alex Jones might have dominated media chatter last week, but both viewers and advertisers stayed away from the final product.
Last night’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, which featured her 19-minute interview with Jones, who claimed the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, drew just 3.5 million total viewers, a 0.5 rating in the adults 18-49 demo and a 0.7 rating in the 25-54 news demo. All represented the lowest ratings yet for Kelly’s fledgling Sunday night news program, which has now aired for three weeks.
The episode trailed a 60 Minutes repeat in total viewers, 5.3 million to 3.5 million.
Ultimately, Kelly received favorable reviews overall for her interview with Jones, but for much of last week, the network and Kelly was under fire from a number of organizations and people who questioned why the show was giving the conspiracy theorist such a public platform.
On Friday, NBC’s station in Connecticut, WVIT—which broadcasts in Newtown, where the Sandy Hook massacre occurred—announced that it was not going to air the episode. “The emotions around the tragedy of Sandy Book are simply too painful for the people of Connecticut,” said anchor Gerry Brooks in a pre-recorded statement that aired at 7 p.m. Instead, the station instead ran episodes of the locally-produced series George to the Rescue.
Last week’s episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly drew 3.6 million viewers overall (less than half of the 7.9 million who watched 60 Minutes), and a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo. Her debut episode, on June 4, had an audience of 6.2 million and a 0.8 in the demo. That demo number beat 60 Minutes (0.7), but that show had 6.8 million viewers.
A year ago, on Sunday, June 19, 2016, NBC aired a repeat of Despicable Me 2 in the time slot, and drew 2.6 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demo—0.2 higher than Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly fared last night.
It wasn’t just audiences who kept their distance. Most of the big-name advertisers featured in the first two episodes of the show—including Bank of America, Mazda, McDonald’s, Toyota, Tide and movie studios like Columbia Pictures, Universal and 20th Century Fox—were MIA from last night’s episode, according to iSpot.tv data. In their place, NBC aired 12 promos from NBC programming, double the number from a week earlier.
JPMorgan Chase asked that that its local and digital ads be removed from all NBC News programming until after Sunday’s show airs.
The episode’s estimated national spend was less than half of that during the previous two weeks, which was in the $1 million range. Brands that did appear in the episode: Allegra, Aspercreme, Cortizone 10, Gold Bond, Head & Shoulders, Icy Hot, Snuggle and Xyzal, which is the only brand to have national spots in all three episodes.
The network expects many of those absent brands to return for subsequent episodes of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.