Courtesy of Fox News
Fox News Channel will revamp a significant chunk of its daytime schedule, and launch a new opinion program at 7 p.m., which previously housed the news-focused show, “The Story.”
As part of the changes, many of Fox News Channel’s best known daytime anchors will find themselves leading new time slots and shows. Harris Faulkner, who hosts two hours from noon to 2 p.m., will now anchor the 11 a.m. slot as well as her noon program, “Outnumbered.” Bill Hemmer, who took over a 3 p.m. slot previously anchored by Shepard Smith, will return to co-anchoring the network’s first two hours of news programming at 9 a.m. – and will be paired with Dana Perino. John Roberts and Sandra Smith will co-anchor two hours in the early afternoon. And Martha MacCallum will move to 3 p.m., the hour previously led by Hemmer.
A rotating group of Fox News opinion hosts will take over the 7 p.m. hour, which will now be titled “Fox News Primetime.” While TV networks and advertisers typically consider primetime to take place between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., the cable-news networks view the 7 p.m. hour to be among their best-watched programs and consider that hour to be part of their most popular program blocks. A permanent host is expected to be named at a later date. MSNBC last year placed Joy Reid, an opinion host with a penchant for colorful turns of phrase, in its 7 p..m. hour. Brian Kilmeade, one of the co-hosts of “Fox & Friends” will fill the hour in its first week.
The moves will be put into place starting Monday, January 18.
Bret Baier’s 6 p.m. program, Neil Cavuto’s 4 p.m. show and “The Five,” three long-running hours in the late-afternoon and and early evening will remain.
“As we kick off a new year, we are excited to announce new changes to our schedule. We have the best-in-class anchors, interviewers, reporters and talent in all of news media,” said Suzanne Scott, Fox News’ CEO, in a statement. “This new powerful lineup ensures Fox News Media will continue to deliver outstanding coverage for our viewers who depend on the most trusted names in the business.”
Fox News Channel in October suggested a new schedule was in the offing after the 2020 presidential election. At the time, the network said it planned to “launch new formats as appropriate after the election.”
The changes are announced as rivals and news-industry executives have wondered how Fox News will navigate a world with a president other than President Donald Trump. Trump has over the course of his four years in office granted Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity and the team at A.M. program “Fox & Friends” frequent and sustained interviews.
Since the election, however, Fox News has had to grapple with reactions from Trump supporters and the far right portion of its audience, many of whom were upset by the network’s coverage. Fox News was first among media outlets to call Arizona for President-elect Joe Biden, a call that was accurate.
The cable-news networks typically face viewership declines after an election year, as audiences that gravitate to national spectacle find other dramas to watch. Yet in an era when more viewers are moving to streaming-video for scripted entertainment, news programming has evolved into one of the main ways big media companies have to assemble the large, live audiences their advertisers and distributors crave. Fox News Channel and CNN generate significant profit for their parent companies, Fox Corporation and AT&T, and maintaining the elevated viewership levels they have achieved in the last four years could be more critical than in the past.
Variety's Brian Steinberg contributed to this post.