Bill O’Reilly may be the man people love to hate or hate to love, but there is one thing that can’t be denied: Mr. O’Reilly still has the highest rated talk show on cable television and still attracts the numbers that some hosts on regular television get.
When looking at ratings at Zap2It for last Wednesday and Thursday, Bill O’Reilly averaged 2.36 million viewers per night for his Fox News show. O’Reilly’s closest competition on Fox, Megyn Kelly, averaged 2.14 million viewers per night. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow averaged 714,000 viewers, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper averaged a paltry 488,000 viewers.
Bill O’Reilly’s ratings have been high all year. Back in February, The Hollywood Reporter noted how O’Reilly’s ratings are high despite the controversy surrounding his alleged lies about being in a war zone.
“Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to draw a devoted audience, even during his lingering controversy. Fox News Channel’s ratings golden boy and 8 p.m. host drew his highest numbers this year on Wednesday night. With no special guest or further commentary on reports that he exaggerated the danger he faced covering the 1982 Falklands conflict, O’Reilly nabbed 705,000 adults 25-54. The last time O’Reilly pulled such a big number was during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in November. He was up 62 percent in demo compared to the same day last year and 24 percent to the same day last week.”
Just 12 years ago, many thought O’Reilly was a flash in the pan and would either fade away or self destruct. Neither has happened. Even the sexual harassment suit from co-worker Andrea Mackris in 2004 didn’t hurt O’Reilly. One would think that the horrible reviews for O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus would slow him down. Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post Dispatch gave Killing Jesus one of its worst reviews.
“Unfortunately, the movie opens with a sequence that feels like parody: Kelsey Grammer as King Herod, in terrible wig and fluffy fake beard, roaming around, seeming to channel Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. It’s hard to take Killing Jesus entirely seriously after that, despite the grim fact that it counts down to a crucifixion.”
Despite the negative reviews, O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus was a huge ratings hit. Deadline reported that the special, which aired on the National Geographic Channel, nabbed 3.7 million viewers on a Sunday evening. O’Reilly has also been the executive producer of a Fox News series titled Legends & Lies. Critics took glee in mocking the title, but it’s obvious that Bill O’Reilly, just as he always has, is getting the very last laugh.
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]