Fox News Picks Tucker Carlson for 8 p.m. Slot

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Tucker Carlson

Talk show host Laura Ingraham was among those considered.

Tucker Carlson is moving into the 8 p.m. hour as Bill O'Reilly exits Fox News while The Five is moving to primetime and Eric Bolling — a host of the panel program The Five — is getting a 5 p.m. show, the network said Wednesday. 

The parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, confirmed Wednesday that O'Reilly is not returning to the air. “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," a statement read.

Carlson will move into the slot on Monday, the day O'Reilly was to return from a pre-planned vacation. The Five, the program hosted by a rotating panel including Dana Perino, Bob Beckel, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greg Gutfeld, Juan Williams and O'Reilly Factor contributor Jesse Watters, will move to Carlson's 9 p.m. slot. 

The move will mark Carlson's third time slot since his show - Tucker Carlson Tonight - debuted on Fox News last November in the 7 p.m. slot previously occupied by Greta van Susteren, who is now at MSNBC. Carlson's show will continue to air live from the network's Washington, D.C. bureau. The Five has performed well since it debuted in 2011. When Kelly left Fox News for NBC News in January, some executives expressed interest in gender diversity in primetime. At that time, Martha MacCallum was promoted to her own 7 p.m. program covering the Trump administration's first 100 days. Execs also discussed moving MacCallum to 9 p.m., but the host is said to have expressed a desire to maintain her earlier schedule. Her show, now called The Story with Martha MacCallum, will remain in the 7 p.m. slot. MacCallum's show also airs live and with The Five live at 9 p.m., Fox News will have three topical hours from 7-10 p.m. Sean Hannity, who often tapes his program earlier, will stay put at 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, executives at 21st Century Fox and Fox News concluded that O'Reilly will exit the network, where he has presided as the No. 1 cable news personality for 15 years. The movement comes as the Murdoch family — patriarch Rupert and sons James and Lachlan, who have day-to-day oversight of 21st Century Fox — are in agreement about O'Reilly's fate. 

O'Reilly's ratings reign atop cable news was virtually uncontested throughout his tenure. Through the first quarter of 2017, his 8 p.m. hour ranked No. 1 by both key measures — an average 3.98 million viewers and 728,000 among adults 25-54. March and April have brought increased demo wins for MSNBC's resurgent Rachel Maddow, who airs at 9 p.m, but O'Reilly's total audience has never been in doubt. 

Carlson replaced Megyn Kelly when she left last January and his show was an immediate hit, helped by record tune-in overall during the early tumultuous days of the administration of Donald Trump. Talk show host Laura Ingraham also was among those being considered for O'Reilly's recently vacated time slot.

Carlson has developed a swift following at Fox News. He's now No. 2 in cable news with an average 3.3 million viewers and 689,000 among adults 25-54.

April 19, 12 p.m. Updated with 21st Century Fox confirmation of O'Reilly's exit and Carlson's confirmed new time.