Jesse Watters takes over Tucker Carlson’s timeslot in Fox News Primetime revamp

Jesse Watters, the wise conservative who got his start with street man interview segments for Fox News opinion host Bill O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. show, is set to to enjoy a sort of homecoming.

Watters will take over the 8 p.m. hour from Fox News, taking on a role previously assigned to Tucker Carlson. The move is part of a sweeping overhaul of Fox News’ prime-time schedule that comes in the wake of Carlson’s sudden ousting and a subsequent drop in viewership at the Fox Corp-backed outlet. . Watters previously led Fox News’ 7 p.m. show.

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Fox News will also move Greg Gutfeld into the primetime block, giving him the 10 p.m. time, while the current occupant, conservative instigator Laura Ingraham, takes the reins at 7 p.m. Sean Hannity will retain his perch at 9 p.m., a slot he has held since 2017 and for long periods in the past. Trace Gallagher’s late-night news program, “Fox News @ Night,” will follow Gutfeld at 11 p.m., an hour earlier than its previous midnight slot.

“Fox News Channel has been America’s destination for news and analysis for more than 21 years and we are excited to launch a new lineup,” Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, said in a statement. “The unique perspectives of Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld will ensure our viewers access to unparalleled coverage of our top team for years to come.”

Fox News’ prime-time program generates a significant portion of the network’s ad revenue and helps bolster negotiations with cable and satellite distributors, who know the outlet’s fervent base can go wild if the distribution is abandoned. Relocations are not taken lightly. Fox News’ viewership is still larger than that of its two main rivals, CNN and MSNBC, although MSNBC drew bigger crowds for a full week earlier this month.

But Fox News executives had been grappling with declining ratings since the forced exit of Carlson, whose controversial comments and behind-the-scenes behavior made him something of a hot potato as Fox Corp. earlier this year came under scrutiny due to a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems. Fox opted to settle after Dominion disputed claims made during coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Fox was ordered to pay $787.5 million.

The lineup, which takes effect July 17, is spawning a new generation of primetime hosts as Fox News, like its rivals, navigates an era where young viewers are increasingly abandoning the mainstays of the cable in favor of on-demand streaming programs. The 8 p.m. viewership fell well below Tucker Carlson’s regularly snatched 3 million.

Watters can give Fox News hope to grab those totals again. His 7 p.m. program, “Jesse Watters Primetime” — the name itself refers to the network’s belief that the show was strong enough for the main stage — typically earns over 2 million viewers per night, and often more. than Fox News’ “Hannity.” at 9. Like Carlson, Watters likes to land sharp elbows to the left. Unlike his predecessor however, Watters did not alienate Madison Avenue. Many major advertisers refused to put ads alongside Carlson after remarks he made about different races and groups sparked boycott calls. Since Carlson’s release, some mainstream advertisers have returned to the 8 p.m. hour of Fox News.

Sponsors were also wary of Ingraham’s 10 p.m. show. Its move to 7 p.m. ensures that Fox News evenings will start with a harsh voice, but could give Fox new economic leeway at 10 a.m. Gutfeld, arguably Fox News’ biggest personality due to his dual duties on his late-night show and popular roundtable program, “The Five,” won’t be taking over the single-host opinion format that is become a staple these days.

The programming changes highlight the growing power of the late afternoon show, “The Five”, which now also has two of its primetime co-hosts. “The Five” is Fox News’ most-watched show and executives have used it to create followings for its personalities, which also include Dana Perino, Jeannine Pirro, Jessica Tarlov and Harold Ford Jr. But even that program is changing. Geraldo Rivera, who occasionally stars as one of the show’s liberal personalities, has announced he won’t be appearing again, and his ultimate future with Fox News is currently unclear.

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