In a move to get senior citizen magnet and ratings killer Sean Hannity as far away from the ratings as contractually possible, Fox News has banished the GOP talking points machine to 10 PM.
Roger Ailes is trying to sell this move as sunshine and kittens for all, “As the network continues to dominate with the top 13 programs in cable news, FOX News already redefined primetime viewing to extend well beyond the antiquated 8-11PM format. We’ve developed a deep bench of engaging and thought-provoking personalities that have grown with FOX News as it has evolved into the most influential and successful cable network in television.”
Greta Van Susteren is moving to 7 PM, because her show was wilting behind Sean Hannity’s ratings erosion. Sarah’s Palin’s BFF should be thrilled to both follow Bret Baier and serve as the lead in for Bill O’Reilly. Van Susteren’s 10 PM show was usually the lowest rated in Fox’s primetime lineup, which coincidentally is where Sean Hannity now finds himself residing.
Earlier this year, Hannity’s ratings dropped 35% and his show has never really recovered. Fox News had to get Hannity out of the post-O’Reilly time slot, because he has been consistently losing half of O’Reilly’s audience every night. This move wasn’t about making the lineup stronger. It was about moving Sean Hannity out of the way for rising star Megyn Kelly.
It is hard to miss the message that Fox was sending by giving Kelly the coveted post-O’Reilly gig, and dumping Hannity at 10 PM. It is almost like the Fox News execs don’t want people to see what an embarrassment Hannity has become.
The biggest reason why Sean Hannity may not do well at 10 PM is demographic. A whopping 42% of the audience for Hannity is made up of senior citizens. It is possible that many of these viewers will choose not to stick around and watch him at the later hour. Hannity will also be hurt by the fact that the show following his is the reply of O’Reilly.
If Fox News wanted to keep Hannity’s audience, they would have moved him to 7 PM, but keeping Hannity’s misinformed blue hairs happy wasn’t why these moves were made.
This new schedule is designed to attract younger viewers to primetime, while inching Sean Hannity’s GOP propaganda hour for grandma closer to the retirement home. Sean Hannity has been banished, and this looks like it could be the beginning of the television end for one of the emptiest of the pro-Republican media’s empty suits.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association