Bill O'Reilly Is Back (Sort Of) With New Online Show

Bill O'Reilly - It's Rockin The Boat Benefit Concert 2015 - Getty - H 2017
Desiree Novaro/Getty Images

The ousted Fox News host has debuted an experimental, 30-minute-long online news show for paid subscribers.

It's not Fox News, but it'll do for now.

On Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly made a first stab at what could become his regular gig: a 30-minute-long news show, shot inside a studio and made available online to premium subscribers to his website. The show will then be made available to the non-paying public on Thursday.

For the last few months, since leaving Fox News, O'Reilly has produced a daily No Spin News podcast that's available only to subscribers. The goal of the studio show, he said at the end of the program, is to "bring everybody into the annual premium membership fold and spread the word."

He made clear that the broadcast is a test, and solicited feedback. "We want your input," he said at the top of the program. "How does it look? Do you like it?"

Compared to the short-sleeve golf shirt he normally wears when taping his podcast, O'Reilly was dressed in a suit and wore a dress shirt made by a company that he advertised at the end of the show. During a commercial break, he advertised his stage show with Dennis Miller and his ever-growing catalogue of history books.

Topically, it was a standard O'Reilly program. Like he would have done as host of The O'Reilly Factor, he discussed President Trump's blustery remarks about North Korea on Tuesday, the media's coverage of the president and the news Wednesday that the FBI had raided the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He interviewed two guests via Skype, the first radio and TV host Michael Smerconish and the second syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, who had called O'Reilly "the king of cable" in a "farewell" column in April.

Smerconish, who has a daily show on SiriusXM radio and hosts an eponymous show on CNN on Saturdays, was introduced as an "old pal" of O'Reilly.

"When Bill was also hosting a syndicated radio show, I was his guest host for five years," Smerconish told The Hollywood Reporter of his appearance. "He asked and I was happy to be his podcast guest. I didn't realize until we did it that it was his first in a TV-like format."

When asked if he thinks O'Reilly will be successful as an online news anchor, Smerconish said, "I suspect he'll attract a sizable audience. Passion sells."

For what it's worth, the reaction to O'Reilly's first online news show was almost universally positive on the message board.

O'Reilly has been promoting his online TV debut for weeks, though some have questioned whether he can make an OTT offering work. He admitted, in an Aug. 3 podcast, that older viewers might not be comfortable watching his show on a computer.

In the same episode last week, O'Reilly discussed his future and said that he has "a lot of offers, luckily" to return to television, if he so chooses. He said he will begin to consider the offers this fall, most likely in early September. "I'm not in a hurry," he said of a potential return to TV. "It's a nasty, dirty game. If I get back in, I'll be attacked. I know that. I have my attorneys ready to go."