First, Cumulus Media announced they were planning on dropping his radio show, and now Fox News is moving Sean Hannity out of his plum 9 PM time slot after Bill O’Reilly.
Drudge is reporting that, “FOXNEWS is set to make its first primetime schedule change in 10 years, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. Superstar newswoman Megyn Kelly has landed the 9 PM slot, top sources reveal. The shock announcement is set for later this month. ‘It’s all about Megyn,’ an insider explains. ‘She is the new face of cable news. She has it all!'”
Fox News execs believe that Kelly will inherit the mantle of top rated host from Bill O’Reilly once he retires. The news that Kelly was moving to primetime originally had everyone focused on Greta Van Susteren’s poor performing, by Fox News standards, 10 PM show. Nobody expected Hannity to get the boot from nine, but looking back, we all should have seen this coming.
Hannity suffered a 35% ratings drop earlier in the year, and he got very defensive about the subject in a recent interview with Playboy:
PLAYBOY: Let’s move on. Fox News’s ratings are down, and your show in particular has taken a hit this year.
HANNITY: No, actually, our ratings are back up.
PLAYBOY: Your ratings were down 35 percent in February.
HANNITY: Well, from the year before, which was an election year.
PLAYBOY: Rachel Maddow has beaten you in your time slot.
HANNITY: Never! Not once!
PLAYBOY: She has in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic.
HANNITY: But overall, we’re at double her ratings. You’ve got to be careful how you make these comparisons.
Before Chris Hayes came along and sunk the Rachel Maddow ratings ship, the MSNBC host was beating Hannity in the demo. More importantly, Hannity could never hold O’Reilly’s huge 8 PM audience. Hannity could be counted on to lose at least 30%-40% of Bill-O’s lead in audience every night. On bad nights, the drop is even more severe. Frankly, Fox News execs correctly believe that they can keep more of the O’Reilly audience with Kelly at 9 PM.
Sean Hannity is signed to a long term deal with Fox News. This means that he will still be on the network somewhere. The question is where will Hannity go? Will Fox News move Greta off of 10 PM, and slide Hannity in there? (I suspect not, because it looks like Fox would like to shift away from the divisive GOP talking point trolling that is Hannity’s specialty.)
This is totally out of left field, but Fox News could pair Hannity and Van Susteren at 10, or they could give Sean the Ed Schultz treatment and move him to weekends.
Any way you look at it, this is a huge demotion for Sean Hannity.
The 9 PM slot after Bill O’Reilly is the best spot on the entire network. On top of this, Cumulus Media is threatening to send Hannity’s radio show packing at the end of the year. Hannity is definitely on a downhill slide, and it really couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.