Fox News Unveils New Prime Time Lineup in Bid to Recover from Post-Tucker Ratings Slump

Fox News unveiled a new primetime lineup heavy with familiar faces in a bid to recover from the ratings slump the network has faced since Tucker Carlson’s ouster in April.


Fox News unveiled a new primetime lineup heavy with familiar faces in a bid to recover from the ratings slump the network has faced since Tucker Carlson’s ouster in April.

  • Jesse Watters will take over Carlson’s 8:00 p.m. time slot, ending two months of rotating hosts in the network’s key programming hour since the cancellation of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” 
  • Laura Ingraham will take over Watters’ previous 7:00 p.m. time slot, while Greg Gutfeld, who currently hosts “Gutfeld!” at 11:00 p.m., will move up an hour into Ingraham’s former perch. Sean Hannity will stay put at the 9:00 p.m. hour.  Trace Gallagher will succeed Gutfeld at 11:00pm.
  • “FOX News Channel has been America’s destination for news and analysis for more than 21 years and we are thrilled to debut a new lineup,” said Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott in a statement. “The unique perspectives of Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, and Greg Gutfeld will ensure our viewers have access to unrivaled coverage from our best-in-class team for years to come.”
  • The new 8:00 p.m. “Jesse Watters Primetime” will launch on July 17. Watters has pulled in 2.6 million viewers so far in 2023, with 270,000 from the 25-54 age cohort preferred by advertisers.
  • Fox News’ ratings continue to struggle since the departure of Carlson. On Friday, Fox News won prime time in total viewers, but finished in third in the key 25-54 demographic behind CNN and MSNBC. Fox News pulled in just 141,000 viewers “in the demo” during prime time, even though it won the day in total average viewers.
  • Watters joined Fox News in 2002, and has worked his way up the ladder from production assistant to commentator on Bill O’Reilly’s primetime show, which occupied the 8:00 p.m. slot before Carlson and now Watters took it over. Watters is also co-host of “The Five” and hosts the weekend program “Watters’ World.”
  • Now that Carlson’s show has been replaced, his remaining staffers are being shown the door. The eight Carlson staffers remaining at Fox News were all laid off on Monday in the wake of the primetime shakeup.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • NBC News characterized Watters as “one of Fox’s most strident conservative culture warriors and a loyal defender of former President Donald Trump.” Daniel Arkin and Diana Dasrath recalled some of Watters’ more controversial moments, including when Dr. Anthony Fauci called for Watters to be fired for urging activists to confront Fauci in public.
  • CNN’s Oliver Darcy described the rival network’s new lineup as “made up almost entirely of hosts who have grown in popularity by feeding their loyal conservative audience a mixture of right-wing talking points, outrage and misinformation.”
  • The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters recalled the contributing factors behind Carlson’s April ouster. Carlson’s exit “followed a string of public relations headaches and legal problems stemming from both his offensive commentary, on and off the air, and a lawsuit from a former producer claiming that he had enabled a toxic workplace,” along with Fox News’ $787.5 million payout to settle a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems.



  • National Review observed the decline in ratings since Carlson’s departure has been so steep it was characterized as a “bloodbath” by Megyn Kelly, herself a former Fox News primetime host.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Watters’ appointment could help the network recover advertisers. Carlson’s history of controversial remarks made him “unappealing to many blue-chip advertisers, some of whom had backed away from advertising during Carlson’s program out of fear of being associated with controversial comments made by the host.”
  • The New York Post noted Fox News recovered its position as the No. 1 cable news network last week after being edged out by MSNBC thanks to coverage of Trump’s federal indictment. Fox News’ 1.6 million viewers over the week of June 18 were more than MSNBC’s 1.4 million and CNN’s dismal 654,000 viewers.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023