Sean Hannity Now Getting Better Ratings Than Megyn Kelly Did at 9 PM on Fox News

In a lengthy and illuminating New York Times Magazine profile, Fox News star Sean Hannity reignited a feud with former colleague Megyn Kelly that first revealed itself when she was still with the network last year. In the NYT piece, Hannity — a full-throated Donald Trump loyalist — complained about the questions that Kelly asked then-candidate Trump during an August 2015 GOP primary debate. “I say this just very objectively: I thought the question was patently unfair,” Hannity told the Times. It’s also been revealed that during that time, Trump personally called Hannity to complain about Kelly pressing him on his past misogynistic behavior and comments. At first blush, it seemed odd that he would bring that up, but considering how Kelly has dinged her former employer – and in a personal manner – the wounded relationship between the two seems far from healed. The timing of Hannity’s shots the ex-FNC star is interesting considering that he now hosts in the very same timeslot that Kelly used to occupy. Nearly a year after Kelly left Fox for the greener pastures of NBC News — she’s now making $20+ million while working on broadcast TV — Hannity mans the coveted 9 PM hour, having been moved there recently in a lineup shift to juice ratings. And not only has the move worked — Hannity is now the top-rated program on cable news — but he is outdrawing Kelly’s ratings from last year, even though Kelly was then the beneficiary of an insane election cycle and a lead-in from The O’Reilly Factor, which was at that time the top dog in all of cable news. According to Nielsen Media Research, from September 25th — when he moved to 9 PM — to November 22nd this year, Hannity has averaged 3.18 million total viewers and 667,000 in the 25-54 demo. During the same period last year, The Kelly File pulled in 3.06 million viewers and a 25-54 audience of 636,000. Overall, Hannity is up 4% in total viewers and 5% in the key demo compared to Kelly last year. It should be noted that a few years ago, Kelly took the 9 PM slot away from Hannity when then-chief Roger Ailes pushed Hannity to the 10 PM hour in an effort to attract younger viewers and focus less on partisan punditry. That move worked for a while, with Kelly improving on Hannity’s previous ratings — especially in the coveted 25-54 demographic — and proving to be a primetime cable news draw. However, it appears that what comes around goes around. Meanwhile, Kelly has dealt with some struggles as she makes the transition from conservative cable news anchor to broadcast morning talk show host. After seeing her limited-run Sunday news magazine draw middling ratings despite the widespread buzz, Kelly has also been seen as stumbling out the gate with her 9 AM morning program, Megyn Kelly Today. During the November sweeps period, her show was on track to deliver 2.3 million total viewers and 699,000 in the demo. While all network morning shows are seeing a downward trend and Kelly has made some ratings progress as of late, this would represent NBC’s lowest number during November since the Today brand took over the 9 AM slot in 2000. For the moment, Sean Hannity comes out on top riding a surging wave of ratings success, while providing the president’s supporters a nightly safe haven. Will we see another swing of this pendulum? Only time will tell. [image via screengrab] — Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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