Leading off with a hard-hitting interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin the debut episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly drew 6.1 million viewers and 1.2 rating in the A25-54 demo. That’s better than Dateline Sunday had been averaging (4.9 million) and was NBC’s best total viewer delivery, excluding sports, since March 20, 2016 in the 7 p.m. timeslot.
Kelly also topped a rebroadcast of 60 Minutes in both younger demos: 25-54 and 18-49, but trailed the venerable newsmagazine among total viewers (6.6 million.)
After being away from TV for 5 months, Kelly didn’t miss a beat when it came to her preeminent skill: asking tough questions (just ask Donald Trump). She asked Putin whether his Ambassador to the U.S. had any secret meetings with Trump associates. “I have no idea. I’m being completely honest with you. I don’t know;” on whether Putin had “something damaging on our president.” “This is just another load of nonsense,” Putin said, adding “Have you all lost your senses over there?”
And on Russia’s human rights record:
Kelly: Many Americans hear the name Vladimir Putin and they think, “He runs a country full of corruption, a county in which journalists who are too critical could wind up murdered, a country in which dissidents could wind up in jail or worse,” to those who believe that what is your message?
Putin: I want to say that Russia is developing along a democratic path. That is certain. And no one should doubt that. Why do you feel you have the right to ask these kinds of questions? And do it all the time. To moralize and give us lessons on how to live?
The show, which will air through the summer until Sunday Night Football returns, was rounded out by two other reports, a Cynthia McFadden investigation, and a feature from Harry Smith, as well as a show kicker called “The Kids Table” which gathered young children talking about the importance manners, inter-spliced with cable news shout-fests (which Kelly knows well from her time at Fox News.)