Will Megyn Kelly Jump To CNN To Directly Compete Against Bill O’Reilly In The Same Time Slot?

Megyn Kelly reportedly has a new contract from Fox News on the table worth $20 million-plus per year, otherwise known as Bill O’Reilly money, but she is apparently looking around to see what else is out there.

The reported salary offer would amount to about a $5 million raise in pay.

According to Vanity Fair, a potential scenario is that she could jump to CNN and compete directly with O’Reilly in the coveted 8 p.m. Eastern Monday-through-Friday time slot. “One industry insider explained that CNN president Jeff Zucker ‘would be crazy not to’ try to poach her. That person, in fact, imagined a scenario in which CNN hired Kelly and might pit her in direct competition against O’Reilly himself—a drama sure to stoke the fantasies of cable news executives everywhere.”

Megyn Kelly’s show The Kelly File started out as a weekly legal-oriented segment on The O’Reilly Factor.

Kelly’s current contract ends in July, 2017, but Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch recently stirred the pot by saying that he hopes the anchor and former corporate lawyer inks the new contract very soon, adding that FNC has a deep bench, with qualified in-house talent — including Judge Jeanine Pirro and former prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle — who could take over the 9 p.m. program if Kelly decides to move on.

O’Reilly averages about 3.1 million viewers a night, with Kelly getting slightly less than that, which blows away their counterparts on MSNBC and CNN.

Whether or not CNN’s intense anti-Donald Trump coverage has harmed its brand, the Donna Brazile scandal certainly hasn’t helped the network’s reputation generally, and perhaps that might enter into Kelly’s decision making.

On the subject of Trump, some believe that when Kelly accused Trump of misogyny in the first GOP presidential debate in August 2015, it was more about careerism and burnishing her credentials for CNN or another network than a legitimate journalistic inquiry. In the intervening months, The Kelly File has also featured a lot of anti-Trump content, including the recent and highly publicized dustup with Newt Gingrich. On some nights, Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity has outpaced Megyn Kelly in viewership. Hannity (whose FNC show used to air in The Kelly File 9 p.m. time slot) follows Kelly on FNC at 10 p.m. Eastern.

Parenthetically, Megyn Kelly, 45, was spotted last Friday having breakfast with Ivanka Trump in New York City, according to The Hill.

Immediately after the presidential election, Megyn Kelly will embark on a book tour for her new memoir, Settle for Less, which is apparently expected to be a best-seller, although Kelly’s May prime-time Fox broadcast network special Megyn Kelly Presents — which included a then-fence-mending interview with Donald Trump following their feud — significantly underperformed in the ratings, if that’s any indication of her appeal to a broader audience. She is also scheduled to co-host Live with Kelly! on November 9.

Vanity Fair adds, however, that other networks may not be that interested in signing up Megyn Kelly after all.

“But so far, the purported auction for Kelly’s services has not come to fruition. One CNN insider explained, ‘of course we would love to have her,’ before noting that poaching Kelly, given the likely cost of her contract, ‘is not something we are seriously considering.’ Instead, this person elaborated, CNN is investing more in documentary-style programming after the election. ‘I don’t believe anyone is pursuing her other than Fox at this point,’ said one ABC insider. A source close to CBS said that they are not making an offer, either. (The person close to Kelly noted that discussions with rival executives were ongoing.)

“In fact, Kelly’s attempt to spread her wings and show that she is more than just a nightly cable-news host may work against her. An executive close to ABC told me that Kelly’s performance during her heavily promoted prime-time interview with Trump was particularly damaging to her perceived ability to ‘translate’ to a morning show, where anchors are typically paid more handsomely than their prime-time counterparts. For Kelly, the Trump interview was intended to patch up her feud with the candidate and show her softer side. But the event was a critical and ratings disappointment.”

According to Variety, other networks may be overcommitted in their existing payrolls.

“While an anchor of Kelly’s caliber, presence, and renown would be a major get for any number of TV-news outlets, it’s not clear whether any of them would want to fork over the money that appears to be involved in her current talks with Fox News…Getting a rival outlet to match [the $20 million offer] is likely to pose a challenge, according to people familiar with the situation…Making matters more complex is the fact that many Fox News counter-suitors have been spending money of their own…To be sure, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If a TV honcho thought Kelly’s star power would boost ratings and be economically feasible, money might not be a barrier…Yet even Kelly is said to be ‘realistic’ about her ability to pull in the same salary that Fox appears prepared to offer somewhere else, according to a person familiar with her thinking. This person said the anchor is generally happy with her role at Fox News but also wishes to find a way to spend more time with her children.”

Do you think that when push comes to shove, Megyn Kelly will stay with Fox News as the host of The Kelly File, which launched as a stand-alone show in October 2013? Do you believe that Fox News will receive value by paying Megyn Kelly approximately $20 million per year?

[Featured Image by Victoria Will/AP Images]