Fox News is undergoing a significant shake-up of its primetime lineup, with Jesse Watters set to take over the 8 p.m. hour, previously occupied by Tucker Carlson. This move comes as part of an overall revamp of the schedule following Carlson’s sudden departure and a subsequent decline in viewership. Watters, known for his man-on-the-street interviews and his previous role leading the network’s 7 p.m. show, is poised to return to a prime position.
Greg Gutfeld will be moving into the 10 p.m. hour, while Laura Ingraham, a conservative firebrand, will take over the 7 p.m. slot. Sean Hannity will maintain his position at 9 p.m., and Trace Gallagher’s “Fox News @ Night” will be moved to 11 p.m. instead of its previous midnight slot.
The changes, effective from July 17, are aimed at revitalizing Fox News’ primetime schedule and attracting younger viewers who are increasingly turning to on-demand streaming programs. The network’s primetime lineup plays a crucial role in generating ad revenue and maintaining negotiations with cable and satellite providers. Despite recent rating declines, Fox News continues to surpass its main competitors, CNN and MSNBC, in viewership.
The ratings downturn at Fox News was partially attributed to Carlson’s departure, following his controversial comments and behind-the-scenes behavior. Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million after the network faced intense scrutiny during coverage of the 2020 presidential election. The settlement created a need for a refreshed lineup to regain viewer trust and recover lost ratings.
Jesse Watters’ success on his current show, “Jesse Watters Primetime,” has positioned him as a potential solution to Fox News’ viewership woes. With his 7 p.m. program frequently attracting more than 2 million viewers, Watters has proven his appeal, often surpassing the viewership of Hannity’s 9 p.m. show. Unlike his predecessor Carlson, Watters has managed to maintain support from advertisers, some of whom had previously boycotted Carlson’s show due to controversial remarks.
Laura Ingraham’s move to the 7 p.m. hour allows for a strong conservative voice to kick off Fox News’ evenings, potentially opening up new economic opportunities at 10 p.m. for the network. Greg Gutfeld, known for his wit and versatility, will not adopt the single-host opinion format that has become customary for the 10 p.m. hour. Gutfeld has been a bright spot for Fox News, garnering a dedicated following since launching his late-night show, “Red Eye,” in 2007.
The changes also highlight the growing influence of the late-afternoon show, “The Five,” as two of its co-hosts, Ingraham and Gutfeld, will now lead primetime hours. Fox News executives have strategically utilized “The Five” to cultivate followings for their personalities. However, the program itself is undergoing adjustments, as Geraldo Rivera, one of the liberal voices on the show, announced his departure, leaving his future with Fox News uncertain.
Overall, the lineup changes at Fox News aim to rejuvenate the network’s primetime offerings, recapture lost viewership, and adapt to the shifting media landscape. The new roster of hosts brings a mix of seasoned voices and rising stars, ensuring viewers will have access to diverse perspectives and unrivaled coverage for years to come, according to Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott.