With Tucker at 9 P.M., Fox Goes for Young Demo

Murdochs bet on Carlson to spur audience growth beyond aging baby boomers

While speculation continued to swirl about a replacement for Megyn Kelly at Fox News, the network moved quickly to install another popular news anchor and commentator: Tucker Carlson.

Carlson will take over the 9 p.m. time slot from Megyn Kelly and move from his regular 7 p.m. slot, where his young show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” has been airing on weeknights.

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Carlson is not someone many would have guessed for this slot, since his program only recently premiered — and many thought Fox News would try out another female host. However, the decision makes complete sense, since Carlson has been a headline-grabbing host with incredibly strong ratings in a very short period of time.

Since taking over Greta Van Susteren’s 7 p.m. time slot on weeknights, Carlson has scored impressive numbers for the network. The premiere of his show grabbed 3.7 million viewers, which made it the most-watched telecast in its time slot for the year.

The much-coveted 25-54 demo is where Carlson shines even brighter. With 750,000 viewers in the demo for his premiere episode, his show beat MSNBC and CNN combined. In just the first month of his program, Carlson showed double-digit increases in the demographic from the previous year.

Any rumors that Fox News would lose a step with Megyn Kelly gone are likely to be proven wrong.

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Carlson’s appeal to young people is something Fox News has long desired, as it’s a network known for primarily older demographics. Carlson’s ratings show he has brought some much-needed attention from younger crowds. In the premiere week of his program, he posted huge increases in multiple younger demos compared to Van Susteren and Brit Hume, who hosted “On the Record” in the time slot for a brief interim period.

Among 18-34-year-olds, Carlson scored an average of 128,000 viewers compared to 80,000 for Hume and 61,000 for Van Susteren. Among 18-49-year-olds, he nabbed an average of 447,000 viewers compared to Hume’s 301,000 and Van Susteren’s 224,000.

Any rumors that Fox News would lose a step with Megyn Kelly gone are likely to be proven wrong. Carlson’s appeal to younger crowds, and his big ratings overall, come from the commentator’s willingness to engage in heated debates on his program — which often inspire headlines and news stories themselves — as well his libertarian streak. He was previously a vocal supporter of Ron Paul.

Related: Megyn Kelly Exits, Stage Left

Carlson will be replaced in the 7 p.m. hour by Martha MacCallum. The new show will be called “The First 100 Days,” according to a Fox statement. MacCallum steps into Carlson’s hour with big shoes to fill after the ratings he pulled.

One thing is for certain: With Carlson taking over the most important block on television, there is little doubt the sky is the limit for his new program.

Meanwhile, Kelly’s last show on Fox is this Friday.

And in related news, ex-Fox host Greta Van Susteren is headed to MSNBC to host her own program, “For the Record with Greta,” which will air weeknights from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to a statement from MSNBC on Thursday afternoon. The program will debut on Monday, Jan. 9, and is based in Washington, D.C.

This article has been updated to reflect the latest media developments. 

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