Megyn Kelly hosts a prime-time cable program, for which Fox News pays her about $10 million a year. Her contract expires a little over a year. Given her high profile, speculation has already started about where she might land and in what role. From the Los Angeles Times:
“Kelly has said she’s undecided about her future with Fox News. But if she becomes available, the competition for her services will be a test of the value of star power at a time when TV news is trying to control costs. The leaner economic times for the network news business have made moves by big star anchors less frequent and bidding wars are rare. Networks increasingly rely on developing their own talent and paying them accordingly once they become proven ratings attractions. And based on past moves by star anchors, there is no guarantee on how many viewers will follow someone to a new outlet.”
That’s the climate; then you must consider the baggage Ms. Kelly carries. That started last year when interviewers and debate moderators vied to take shots at Donald Trump, eager to be credited with bringing his fledgling campaign down. Things got personal between Ms. Kelly and Mr. Trump, probably to the benefit of neither.
As Ms. Kelly’s profile rose, she signed on with Creative Artists Agency, which represents many TV heavyweights. She also changed her look, traditionally pretty-girl blonde, to a pulled-back, all-business style. (Stop with the “sexist” tripe; we’d also notice if Sean Hannity shaved his head.)
She’ll be 46 when her contract is up with a long career ahead. CAA management would like to double her current salary. But that seems unlikely, given the industry terrain and her unique value to Fox News (and likely only to Fox News, despite Trump fans’ calls on Twitter for a boycott). More from the Times:
“She is part of a prime-time lineup that draws a fiercely loyal audience. Fox News Channel has rallied its devoted viewers’ support when it negotiates carriage fee increases from cable and satellite operators. The channel gets an average of $1.85 per subscriber each month from video providers, second only to ESPN.”
This is the side of the cable industry few people consider. Without Fox News, ESPN, CNN, USA Network, the Turner networks and Animal Planet (my personal favorite), cable and satellite systems would find far fewer subscribers willing to pay monthly rates that border on insane.
After the political dust settles, CAA will shop Ms. Kelly’s services; expect denials all around after news stories are leaked. But as one news exec noted: “I don’t think that she hired CAA in order to make less money.” Of course, that won’t happen. An educated guess is that the best offer will come from Fox News.