Megyn Kelly is arguably the biggest star on Fox News Channel, and she’s leaving the network after this Friday’s edition of “The Kelly File,” heading over to NBC for a new multi-part role, NBC has confirmed to Tabloid Nation.
As part of the multiyear agreement, Kelly will host her own one-hour daytime program, anchor an in-depth Sunday evening news magazine show and be a regular contributor to NBC News’ special events coverage.
“Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Kelly will continue hosting her Fox show through the end of the week, with her last show airing on Friday, Jan. 6.
In a statement posted to Facebook after the official announcement, Kelly said she is “delighted” to join NBC.
“Over a dozen years ago I started at Fox News in a job that would change my life,” Kelly wrote. “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. Happy New Year, and God bless.”
The New York Times first broke the news shortly before the announcement.
Kelly’s contract with Fox News, where she hosts a nightly 9 p.m. program, is up this summer. Her future at the channel was under intense speculation following her run-ins with President-Elect Donald Trump during the campaign, leading to Trump boycotting one of Fox News’ primary debates. Kelly also became a key figure in the ousting of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, when she came forward to report that she too was subject to sexual harassment, a charge Ailes has denied.
Her forthcoming departure signals one of the biggest changes for the cable news channel and comes just months after Ailes’ departure. “The Kelly File” consistently rated as one of the top Fox News shows, often in direct competition with the longstanding ratings blockbuster “The O’Reilly Factor.” It is not yet clear whether Kelly will host her program as a lame duck anchor, or whether she will depart the channel immediately.
At NBC, it is extremely unlikely that she launches her new programs before this fall, and perhaps even until 2018. Network TV lineups are often set months in advance, and if she can’t start working at NBC until this summer, it could be months longer before these new shows launch. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” also means the Sunday evening program may need to wait until next year.
A source said that Kelly and her agents were wary of letting her primetime program go the way of “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” which was shuffled around to different nights, before ultimately being canceled. Kelly was apparently promised a multi-year runway for the show.
While 21st Century Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, had expressed publicly how much they wanted to keep Kelly and had reportedly offered her a deal worth $20 million per year, Murdoch signaled in a Wall Street Journal interview last year that the decision is up to her.
“We have a deep bench of talent, many of whom would give their right arm for her spot,” he said in the October interview.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Murdoch thanked Kelly for her work at Fox.
“We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to FOX News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best,” Murdoch said.
Fox’s media correspondent Howard Kurtz broke the news on Fox shortly after Kelly posted on Facebook.
“Big breaking news here: our colleague Megyn Kelly confirming moments ago on her Facebook page that she will be leaving Fox News after a career that began here in 2004 to join NBC News. As our viewers probably know, there has been something of a bidding war for Megyn Kelly’s services as her contract was due to expire this year,” Kurtz said.
Anchor Jenna Lee said it was “a little awkward” to talk about Kelly leaving but noted the new year means new beginnings.
“[I]t is a new year, new beginnings, and we wish her nothing but the best and we look forward to hearing from our viewers as well about the new things they’d like to see on Fox News, whatever that may be. So, we’ll just leave it there,” Lee said.
“This obviously will mean a change in the Fox News primetime lineup, so there are some possibilities there,” Kurtz added. “And I personally wish her well. I’ve appeared on The Kelly File many times, she is immensely talented and in the past year with obviously her feud, or the war Donald Trump declared on her for a while, Megyn Kelly became an international superstar, magazine cover girl and all of that so, that’s why there is such high interest in this one particular personnel move.”