Fox News has made it official and fired Bill O’Reilly. In a sign of how far the talent pool has fallen, O’Reilly will be replaced by Tucker Carlson, and Carlson’s 9 PM time slot will be filled by The Five, which means that the door is wide open for MSNBC to move The Rachel Maddow Show to 8 PM where it will have the chance to be the top-rated show on cable news.
21st Century Fox announced O’Reilly’s firing in a statement, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”
The new Fox News lineup minus O’Reilly looks considerably weaker than before:
Fox News sources: Tucker Carlson at 8pm, The Five moves to 9pm. Starting Monday 4/24.
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) April 19, 2017
The rumor for the last two years is that MSNBC has been kicking around the idea of moving Rachel Maddow to 8 PM ET.
MSNBC has some options if they would like to capitalize on O’Reilly’s departure.
The network could move Maddow to 8 PM and keep the matchup with Tucker Carlson going. Maddow has fared very well against Carlson. She has beaten his with younger viewers consistently and has beaten him in total viewers. Chris Hayes’s ratings have improved, but his program is far weaker than Maddow’s, and MSNBC wants to make a move to be the top-rated primetime cable network, it might be smarter to move Hayes to 9 PM where he can go against The Five, which sliding that program into 9 PM looks like an act of desperation on the part of Fox.
Maddow would be helped by getting away from her weaker All In lead in, and Hayes would see his ratings grow by being led into 9 PM by Maddow.
The point is that there is a real opportunity for the surging MSNBC to overtake Fox News in primetime. Bill O’Reilly was much of the viewership difference between Fox News and MSNBC. 8 PM is the star slot on cable news, and now is the time for MSNBC to give Rachel Maddow, who has always been the heir to Olbermann’s 8 PM slot, the hour that she deserves to be in.
The king of cable news is dead. MSNBC has a chance to make Rachel Maddow the queen.