Now that Bill O’Reilly is officially gone from the network, Fox News wasted no time in reconfiguring its potent prime-time lineup.
CEO Rupert Murdoch and his sons officially announced in a memo today that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel after the company investigated several sexual harassment charges that were swirling around him. O’Reilly is currently vacationing in Italy and was due to return to the anchor chair on April 24.
This gives rise to much speculation as to what the post-O’Reilly lineup would look like. Airing at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, The O’Reilly Factor has been the top-rated show in the cable news universe for 15 years. In the past three years alone, it has generated about $450 million in advertising revenue.
In what will increase the profile of Eric Bolling and several of his colleagues, the new Fox News evening schedule in Eastern time is as follows (and not listed below in chronological order).
Tucker Carlson Tonight moves from 9 p.m. into the prestigious O’Reilly 9 p.m. slot. This is a logical move in that Tucker Carlson’s ratings outperformed his predecessor Megyn Kelly, the former host of The Kelly File who famously jumped to NBC. A libertarian-oriented conservative, Carlson’s contentious interviews with various liberal guests have regularly gone viral.
If past performance is any indication, Tucker Carlson should be able to hold on to O’Reilly’s loyal viewership unless they are alienated by the way the network dismissed the longtime proprietor of the “no-spin zone.” Notably, The O’Reilly Factor ratings actually spiked during the controversy. In his final week on the air, “O’Reilly saw his viewers between 25 and 54 – the audience most coveted by advertisers – rise 42%, while overall viewership surged 28%,” Variety explained.
The Five, another successful show originally launched as a replacement for the departing Glenn Beck, will move from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will continue to air on a live basis which poses somewhat of a lifestyle adjustment for the personalities and the production staff. In case you were wondering, it will not be renamed The Nine.
O’Reilly protege Jesse Watters, best known for his satirical man/woman on the street “Watters World” segments, will replace Eric Bolling in the center chair, and joins Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dana Perino, Greg Gutfeld, and the Bob Beckel/Juan Williams rotation around the table. An official announcement from The Five crew is imminent at this writing, and the video clip will be embedded below as soon as it becomes available.
The likelihood is that The Five will give MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and the CNN crew a run for their money in the show’s new, more high-visibility time slot.
As of May 1, Eric Bolling gets a new, as-yet named program airing at 5 p.m. weekdays that will start on May 1. In the meantime, Special Report with Bret Baier (which airs at 6 p.m.) expands to two hours as a Bolling placeholder, TheHill detailed.
Martha McCallum will continue to anchor at 7 p.m., but her show will be renamed from The First 100 Days to The Story with Martha MacCallum.
Sean Hannity’s 10 p.m. platform remains as is. There had been some speculation that he would reclaim the 9 p.m. perch that he vacated several years ago to make room for Megyn Kelly when she was promoted from her afternoon shift.
These changes (other than the new Bolling show) become effective on the Fox News Channel next Monday. The Factor, apparently without the name “OReilly” attached to it, will air with guest hosts for the rest of this week.
In a statement on his website about today’s rapid-fire events, Bill O’Reilly wrote that it was “tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” adding that “I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
While Fox execs in New York City were orchestrating his departure, Bill O’Reilly had a chance to shake hands with Pope Francis at Vatican City.
Commenting on the cancellation of The O’Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times observed that “The decision to oust O’Reilly was a tricky one for Fox News because he is the network’s most popular anchor. But the Murdoch family, which controls Fox News parent 21st Century Fox, faced pressure to act in the face of mounting negative publicity surrounding the sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly.”
How do you think Fox News Channel will do in the post-Bill O’Reilly era?
[Featured Image RW/MediaPunch/IPX via AP Images]