FNC’s Unfamiliar Territory…

I’d held off writing about Bolling’s departure from FNC, mostly because of what happened with his son. It’s bad enough to lose your job over something that will follow you around for the rest of your life and ruin your career in broadcasting anywhere close to the mainstream. But to lose your son the same day (which may or may not be related depending on who you read for information)…at that point I don’t feel like writing anymore about it.

I was surprised to see The Specialists get cancelled though. Yes, it all but confirmed that The Specialists was never an ensemble show and was always intended to be an Eric Bolling vehicle. But it also made for a big no confidence vote for both Kat Timpf and Eboni K Williams, whether that was FNC’s intention or not, because it basically said, “We don’t think you’re good enough to be able to maintain a show without an established talent like Eric Bolling to be the center of the universe”.

I’m not saying I agree with that. I am saying that’s how the optics of this move read. Or at least appeared to be read. It turns out there was an even bigger shoe to drop…

Last night CNN’s Brian Stelter and Hadas Gold broke news of a bigger shakeup in FNC primetime…

Laura Ingraham, the radio host and Fox News commentator, is about to become a prime time host on the conservative cable network.

Ingraham is expected to take over the 10 p.m. hour on Fox News, according to people who spoke on condition of anonymity.

While there may be one or two final details to negotiate, Ingraham has been telling friends that the deal is essentially done, the sources said.

Her new show will be part of a broader change to the network’s top-rated prime time lineup. Sean Hannity’s show, currently at 10 p.m., will move one hour earlier to 9 p.m., multiple sources confirmed.

Now, cancelling of an Eric Bolling-less The Specialists made more sense. Put the show that previously occupied that timeslot (The Five) back and slot Hannity in at 9 and Ingraham in at 10pm.

But this is really all about MSNBC and what Maddow is doing at 9pm. For the first time, going back to at least 2000, FNC finds itself in the unfamiliar position of having to react and adjust its programming based on damage being inflicted by another network.

The Five just wasn’t doing well enough against Maddow. FNC could ill afford to let things fester like this for much longer. Moving Hannity won’t rob viewers from Maddow but should bring in bigger viewers at 9pm than The Five could.

However it’s not clear to me at the moment that this will be enough. Sure it makes FNC more competitive with MSNBC at 9 but it may not be enough to permanently put MSNBC back to 2nd going forward because Maddow’s momentum in a Trump world is hard to top.

Moreover, this yet to be announced move will give FNC the most single minded partisan line up in cable news for as long as MSNBC keeps Brian Williams on at 11. FNC’s lineup will never have been as monotone or more ideological than it will be with Carlson/Hannity/Ingraham. There was alsways one hour that wasn’t as ideological or as uniform as the others. Not anymore.

This is also unfamiliar territory for FNC. For over a decade FNC’s programming rarely changed. There was tinkering on the periphery but not wholesale changes. Give credit to Roger Ailes maintaining his vision or credit to a lineup that didn’t need to be adjusted because it was that powerful…but the bottom line is that it wasn’t broke so nobody fixed it.

Those days are over. In a post Ailes, post O’Reily world, FNC has now shaken up its prime time twice this year. It may not be the last.


13 Responses to “FNC’s Unfamiliar Territory…”

  1. […] ICN: Rumored primetime sked puts Fox News in unfamiliar territory. […]

  2. “FNC’s lineup will never have been as monotone or more ideological than it will be with Carlson/Hannity/Ingraham.”

    I suppose you could ask, “Why not? Isn’t MSNBC having a modicum of success with an ideologically similar lineup of Hayes/Maddow/O’Donnell?”

    I would argue that somehow this FNC change (if it happens) feels differently — or as you said, “monotone.”

    I would also point out that there have been nights (sometimes multiple times per week) where The Five has beaten its FNC competitors Carlson and Hannity in the key demo ratings. Which could suggest that the cumulative demo ratings for 8p, 9p and 10p could end up being a step backward with the addition of Ingraham.

    Stay tuned I guess.

  3. Sure Fox news isn’t crushing the competition but last month they were the #1 news network and won the demo also.

    Just because MSNBC for the first time in history looks competitive doesn’t mean its time to panic. KO did good against Fox for a while and hes yelling at a camera at GQ break table now.

    Things change…..wasn’t that long ago a 12th repeat of lockup got more viewers than Maddow show did in prime time.

  4. I suspect it bugs some (perhaps many) in Fox News management that it is an inescapable fact that the August #’s show that Rachel Maddow’s show was the top-rated program on cable news for the month, both on a total-viewer (2.8 million) and 25-54 demo basis.

    But it sounds like we are in agreement. Why “panic” (to use your word) and make changes to primetime by bringing in Laura Ingraham.

  5. I will watch cable news when they start reporting news

  6. Fox has the problem MSNBC had after they dropped Olbermann and Schultz…. it’s stale. At least before, Fox had a conservative lineup but there was still a variety of different viewpoints — it was never the same thing hour after hour.

    Now, it’s the same thing and Inghram will make it worse. Carlson and Hannity do the same exact show. Inghram will fall right in line with them. And MacCallum at 7pm isn’t much different for a show that’s supposedly a newscast.

    Reminds me of when MSNBC was hour after hour after hour of panel shows and progressive POV shows — and all those POV shows were the same thing except for O’Donnell.

    Even worse for Fox News, they’re doing all this in a time when the network basically shills for a historically unpopular president.

  7. I suppose you could ask, “Why not? Isn’t MSNBC having a modicum of success with an ideologically similar lineup of Hayes/Maddow/O’Donnell?”

    Hayes and Maddow are essentially the same show, which is why I only watch one or the other. Typically Maddow though, since she’s remained focused on the Russia story in spite of all of Trump’s distractions.

    I’d like to see MSNBC move Hayes to a different time. Four years at 8pm and, in spite of MSNBC’s ratings surge, he’s still usually in third place. If I was Phil Griffin, which I’m not, I’d hire Lauren Duca and put her on at 8pm as a lead in for Maddow.

    As for O’Donnell, his show isn’t close to the same as Maddow or Hayes. Which is why his show works. O’Donnell is a firebrand, like O’Reilly was at Fox.

  8. ^^ Also, I wouldn’t say MSNBC is having success with Hayes. As stated above, his show still comes in third place quite often, while MSNBC’s other shows are first place or second place. It’s also not uncommon for Hayes to draw lower ratings at 8pm than Matthews does at 7pm.

  9. Even with the debatable assumption that Hayes/Maddow/O’Donnell are “the same”, it’s a “same against”, which is what Fox had with Obama. There’s plenty of field to till when you’re on the outside shouting at The Man, while MSNBC had been stuck with a series of hosts who all sang the praises of the president. It just gets boring and people wander off. Now Fox is stuck with hosts who seem to be working for The Man, and they spend most of their time defending him by complaining about other media. It’s BORING.

  10. MSNBC also has this strange programming on called news where they cover current events, such as the storms and earthquake. Even in primetime. Whereas Fox basically spends all morning, most of the day and all night bitching about liberals and the media and anyone who doesn’t think Donald Trump is the single greatest person to ever walk the face of the planet.

  11. While it could be argued the FNC primetime lineup will be monotone (which isn’t new in cable news), I think they will tackle the issue of the day with the political ideology and leaning bit at different directions.

    But it makes sense. If you want people to watch programs live they need to anchored by people they want to watch. Laura brings a very familiar presence to the network with an established radio show and website. I am not a particular fan of hers but it will be interesting to see how she does.

  12. An entire primetime lineup of Trumpers is not “leaning a bit in different directions.” The whole night is WH PR and complaints about media that don’t do WH PR. BORING.

  13. I meant to say that they have different approaches to covering the topics of the day albeit similar political ideology, but we’ll see how much they will overlap. And while they all do agree with the current administration, I don’t see the problem with that if they’re all honest about it and people are watching. They’re just talking heads at and of the day after all.

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