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Bill O’Reilly’s devoted viewers don’t appear to be deterred by his sexual harassment scandal. They might even be intrigued.
The O’Reilly Factor host has helmed two telecasts since The New York Times broke the news that he’s settled numerous claims of sexual harassment while at the network — several of them within the past year. More than 20 advertisers (and counting) have since pulled spots from the network’s crown jewel, but ratings are up. On Tuesday, O’Reilly Factor topped all of cable news with an average 628,000 adults 25-54 (cable news’ targeted demo) and 3.76 million viewers. That’s an audience increase of 20 percent from last Tuesday. Compared to Monday, when O’Reilly Factor was also up week-to-week, the show brought in more viewers — though a smaller share of the demo.
O’Reilly has yet to address the controversy on his show, though one can assume that at least some of the tune-in was to see if he would. So far, he’s won both nights of the week in total viewers and adults 25-54.
Some primetime cable news telecasts outperform O’Reilly now and then, but he has been the undisputed No. 1 for years. His biggest competition, and former lead-out, was eliminated in January with Megyn Kelly’s abrupt move to NBC News. In the first quarter of 2017, O’Reilly averaged 728,000 adults 25-54 and 3.98 million viewers. It was his biggest quarter ever, as it was for many cable news shows, catapulted by coverage of the new Trump administration.
The scandal puts Fox News in a terribly tricky spot. The network, which just weathered a sexual assault scandal involving former chief Roger Ailes, has relied on O’Reilly to anchor its dominant lineup since it launched in 1996.
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