Sarah Palin's appearance as a guest host for Today resulted in a modest increase in the ratings for NBC (5.497 million viewers, compared to an average of 5.39 million viewers in the first quarter of 2012), but did not significantly widen the gap between Today and Good Morning America on ABC.
Her Today experience is the latest instance of Palin attracting underwhelming television ratings, despite comments from Fox News president Roger Ailes that he hired Palin "because she was hot and got ratings."
New York magazine noted that "beyond her prime-time commentary, Palin hasn't turned into the television asset Ailes had hoped" and that her decision not to run for president (announced on Mark Levin's radio show and not Fox News) had short-circuited her appeal as a pundit for the network.
In January 2010, Fox hyped Palin's debut appearance as a Fox pundit on the O'Reilly Factor as hitting "the nearly 4 million viewer jackpot." The rest of her time at Fox has not been as successful.
Her first TV special for Fox aired April 1, 2010. The special, Real American Stories, caused controversy when interview subjects like actor/musician LL Cool J alleged that Fox was "misrepresenting" an old interview as new "in order to promote Sarah Palins Show."
It was also not a ratings success. Real American Stories had 10% lower ratings than the episode of On The Record with Greta Van Susteren that aired in the same slot the previous week. The special lost 183,000 viewers from its Hannity lead-in.
When Fox announced Palin's hiring, they said she would host "periodic episodes" of Real American Stories. Only one episode has been released since 2010.
Her reality show on TLC, Sarah Palin's Alaska, debuted in November 2010 with 5 million viewers, but by the second episode the ratings had declined 40% to 3 million viewers, and as the Hollywood Reporter noted, "the median age of the show is 57 -- that's 15 years older than TLC's average."
Entertainment Weekly later reported that TLC has "no plans" to produce a second season of the show.
Palin and her husband Todd reportedly pitched a different reality show to TLC and A&E, but both networks passed on the program. A "network insider" told The Hollywood Reporter that "I think it's safe to say her time has passed."