Fox News Announces Major Primetime Shakeup Months After Tucker Carlson’s Exit

Fox News Announces Major Primetime Shakeup Months After Tucker Carlson’s Exit
(L-R) Jeanine Pirro, Harold Ford Jr., Jesse Watters, Dana Perino, and Greg Gutfeld speak onstage during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Fox News announced Monday that it will launch a new primetime weekday lineup, coming two months after it announced it is parting ways with host Tucker Carlson.

Nielsen data show that Fox News’ primetime ratings have dropped after Carlson’s departure. In March, the full month before Carlson’s departure, the former Fox News host’s 8 p.m. show averaged more than 3 million viewers per episode, but the replacement show, “Fox News Tonight,” hasn’t been able to recapture those numbers.

In an article published at the very top of its website, Fox News said “Jesse Watters Primetime” will be moved to Carlson’s old timeslot at 8 p.m. ET. Longtime host Sean Hannity will remain at his 9 p.m. hour, Laura Ingraham’s show will be moved to 7 p.m., and Greg Gutfeld’s program will start at 10 p.m. ET.  Both Gutfeld and Watters are hosts of Fox’s most popular show, “The Five,” which airs at 5 p.m.

“FOX News Channel has been America’s destination for news and analysis for more than 21 years and we are thrilled to debut a new lineup. The unique perspectives of Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, and Greg Gutfeld will ensure our viewers have access to unrivaled coverage from our best-in-class team for years to come,” Fox News Channel CEO Suzanne Scott announced in the article.

The changes will go into effect next month, the company said.

While Fox’s ratings have slipped with Carlson’s departure, the network topped all other cable news channels in May, according to Nielsen data. Analysts noted Fox’s viewership has narrowed while MSNBC’s ratings have increased.

Fox News averaged some 1.42 million viewers in May, or a 37 percent decline from May 2022, according to the data cited by Deadline Hollywood. MSNBC last month averaged 1.16 million viewers, or a 14 percent increase from a year ago, the figures show. CNN, meanwhile, dropped 25 percent year-over-year to 494,000 viewers.

More significantly, Fox averaged considerably fewer viewers in the 25–54 demographic that advertisers covet. For May, Fox averaged 135,000 in that demographic, down 62 percent from a year prior, while MSNBC averaged 120,000 viewers, up 14 percent. CNN also saw a 25 percent decline to 113,000 demographic viewers.

Fox’s “The Five” topped all cable news shows in total viewers, drawing 2.63 million on average. “Jesse Watters Primetime” averaged 2.14 million, while “Hannity” averaged 1.91 million for May, according to the Nielsen figures.

Since making his debut on Hannity’s show years ago, Watters has remained a popular figure among Fox News viewers. When Fox made its announcement about the lineup change, some legacy news outlets immediately focused on previous comments that he made during a 2021 event in which he criticized former White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci.

An advertisement features current and former Fox News personalities, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, in New York City, on March 13, 2019, as seen in a file photo. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
An advertisement features current and former Fox News personalities, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, in New York City, on March 13, 2019, as seen in a file photo. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Fox News Tonight,” the temporary program that filled Carlson’s timeslot, used a rotating cast of Fox News personalities, including morning host Brian Kilmeade, Harris Faulkner, Will Cain, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and more.

On April 24, Fox News stunned the media world when it announced in a brief news release that it was parting ways with Carlson, the network’s most popular host and a leading voice among conservative figures known to focus on issues that impact working- and middle-class Americans. He has since launched a show on Twitter, which has drawn tens of millions of viewers per episode on average, so far.

Lawyers for Fox News, meanwhile, have reportedly sent letters to Carlson, demanding he stop his Twitter show because he’s still under contract for the network. Lawyers for Carlson, meanwhile, have said that Fox News is violating their client’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Earlier this month, Harmeet Dhillon, one of Carlson’s attorneys, suggested that other conservative figures should boycott Fox News in light of the network’s demand letters to Carlson. As for the former Fox News star, he hasn’t publicly commented on why he left the network, although one of his Twitter videos criticized his former employer for reportedly firing a producer for creating a banner that accused President Joe Biden of being a “wannabe dictator” after former President Donald Trump’s arrest on federal charges.

At the same time, Daily Wire host Matt Walsh published internal Fox documents suggesting that the company promotes left-wing gender theory and features a “pride month” campaign recommending controversial pro-LGBT books to its employees, among other measures.

That drew a warning from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Twitter, who wrote Fox News could be engaging in a “kind of deliberate alienation of its own audience” that “might not end well for” the channel. “But for the fact that there is no other large cable news company in America that is widely known as conservative (or even right of center), this account could prove devastating,” he wrote, noting that another conservative-leaning network would take its spot in the near future.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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