Simultaneous to parent company 21st Century Fox’s announcement it had cut ties with Bill O’Reilly, ending his 21-year run as the face of Fox News Channel, the cable news network announced that Tucker Carlson was getting The O’Reilly Factor’s 8 PM timeslot. Tucker Carlson Tonight takes over on Monday – the day O’Reilly was scheduled to return from vacationing in Italy.
Daytime roundtable series The Five is moving to primetime, taking Tucker’s 9 PM hour, starting Monday. Longtime panelist Eric Bolling is exiting the show, hanging on to its 5 PM ET timeslot to host a show of his own. Replacing Bolling on The Five: O’Reilly protege Jesse Watters.
Dana Perino, who was among those filling in for O’Reilly on The Factor this week, will continue to sub Wednesday and Thursday nights; Greg Gutfield will fill in on Friday.
Carlson’s new gig comes as no surprise. He had been Rupert Murdoch’s pick to assume the 9 PM hour after Megyn Kelly left the network to join NBC News, and dramatically improved the timeslot’s numbers for FNC. In mid-January, Carlson’s first two full weeks hosting Fox News Channel’s 9 PM timeslot, averaged 3.7 million viewers, 775,000 of them in the 25-54 news demo, topping CNN and MSNBC in both metrics.
Tucker Carlson Tonight’s numbers were 37% higher in viewers and up 50% in the news demo compared with the 2016 average of The Kelly File in the 9 PM slot. Compared with Kelly’s performance in the same two weeks last year, Carson was up 95% in the demo and 46% in overall audience. Carlson’s numbers back then seemed to make the point the network could survive Kelly’s very dramatic tenure and departure without seeming to miss a beat. Presumably the company hopes Carlson performs similar feat in O’Reilly’s hour.