FNC’s lineup changes show evolution of cable news

By   /   September 19, 2013  /   55 Comments

By Jason Stverak | Franklin Center

When Fox News unveiled its new prime-time lineup, detractors and competitors undoubtedly grasped at straws to argue that the changes revealed some sort of hidden agenda, but the shift is yet another indication of the network’s staying power.

CHANGES: Fox News is changing its line up to reflect the reality of the market.

CHANGES: Fox News is changing its line up to reflect the reality of the market.

Despite a lengthy run atop the cable news ratings with no end in sight, FNC’s is resisting complacency and proactively responding to the market to ensure that their network will continue to grow its audience.

The changes at FNC reflect the emergence of a new generation of viewers — the Millennials, who have never known life without cable news and increasingly turn to social media and blogs to stay connected with their world.

Fox News has long dominated among older viewers, who grew up with the traditional 6 o’clock network news and respond well to the network’s trademark style of political commentary, but today’s young adults in their 20s and 30s have different tastes and preferences.

These younger adults represented the only looming problem on the horizon for FNC. Despite leading the Nielsen ratings for the 143rd consecutive month and drawing more viewers than the other three major cable networks combined, the latest figures showed that Fox News’ viewership among 25-54 year olds was slipping.

Instead of reveling in its success among older demographics, Fox decided to aggressively target its lone measurable weakness by moving talented young anchor Megyn Kelly into prime time and poaching the popular Elisabeth Hasselbeck from ABC to reinvigorate its morning program. Both women would seem to have strong appeal to younger audiences and should give the network an opportunity to add new viewers to the fold.

PRIME PLAYER: Megyn Kelly moves to prime time on Fox News

Hasselbeck’s arrival at Fox and Friends weakens rival ABC in the morning time slots while bolstering  a new demographic — the heavily female fanbase she built at The View — at FNC. At 36,, Hasselbeck also fits squarely into the demographic Fox News — and all other networks — covet.

This move should also benefit Hasselbeck as much as it does her new employer. Although her 10-year run at The View garnered a national following, the morning talk show was stunting Hasselbeck’s career growth by pigeonholing her as the lone center-right panelist during endless discussions of liberal public interest topics. At FNC, Hasselbeck can thrive in a less hostile environment and branch out into new roles.

The changes in prime time represent a smart reaction to one of their most popular young anchor’s successes. At a time when Fox had been losing younger viewers, Kelly was gaining them, even in her middle-of-the-workday 1 p.m. timeslot. Now, Kelly’s program will air in the key 9 p.m. slot, when far more young adults are at home watching TV.

AMONG FRIENDS: Elisabeth Hasselbeck joins Fox and Friends, the morning program.

AMONG FRIENDS: Elisabeth Hasselbeck joins Fox and Friends, the morning program.

It’s no coincidence that Kelly’s new slot coincides with the peak hour of social media usage. FNC plans to aggressively incorporate Kelly’s social media acumen into her new program to draw younger viewers’ eyes back to the television from their laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Kelly’s move to prime time also places FNC on the cutting edge of another emerging trend: the revival of investigative journalism.

While one of Fox’s competitors is cutting its investigative department, and the other is delivering only a third of FNC’s news content, Kelly’s new show will refreshingly focus on “in-depth investigative reports interspersed with newsmaker interviews.” This renewed focus on investigative reporting over commentary and human interest shows that Fox is confident in its standing and striving to make its content even better.

The other changes to FNC’s prime-time lineup reflect a similar confidence in the network’s news operations.

Greta Van Susteren, whose program is more news-oriented than others in the lineup, will move from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m., placing her closer to the events of the day and better equipping her to deliver news as it occurs.

Likewise, Sean Hannity’s popular commentary program will move to 10 p.m., giving his viewers more time to digest stories before hearing his take, and Shepard Smith’s new role as breaking news editor gives the network an experienced reporter on hand throughout prime time to update viewers on stories as they develop.

In another display of confidence, Fox News made no changes to the three most popular programs in its evening lineup — The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, and The O’Reilly Factor, each of which routinely draws as many viewers as its three closest competitors combined. With a trio of established bedrocks anchoring the lineup, the network can afford to take the edgy risk of introducing Kelly to prime time.

Fox News has grown from a lonely cable outpost to the 800-pound gorilla of TV news in just 17 years by taking measured risks, constantly adapting to the changing market and giving its viewers the content they want to see. The changes to the prime-time lineup continue in this tradition and the network’s era of dominance will continue to roll along with no end in sight.

Jason Stverak is President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.



Jason Stverak was formerly the president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

  • JaneRogers

    FNC is an 800 pound gorilla because it tells the truth and is not in bed with Obama.

  • porchhound

    Although I find FOX to be aligned more with statist Republican leadership I still prefer it to the other options. I don’t like Gutfield or most of the FIVE. Gutfield lost me when he decided Snowden was the enemy and the NSA was our benefactor.

  • Marine53

    I used to love “The Five” but until Beckel is gone from the show this white cracker, as Beckel likes to call us, will not be a “Five” fan.

  • LadyMelody

    It’s actually good to keep a few Libs around, just to show the fallacy of their ideology.

  • halotx

    I won’t watch The Five because of Beckel, and now I won’t watch Fox Prime Time because of Kelly. Who makes these absurd decisions? “Fair and Balanced”? Seriously! Beckel never has had anything constructive to say, and Kelly wasn’t even good in her Oprah hour. What makes her ready for Prime Time?

  • Robert S. Bruchmann

    I just love those folks that complain how right wing Fox News is…I ask them how often do they watch, and the answer is…Never watch that right wing republican mouth piece…Now I know why the other cable news organization are losing ratings…they only have dumb asses tuning in…

  • EddyJJ

    The only problem with Fox is that they don’t grill right wingers at all yet claim they are “fair and balance”. Just wish O’Reilly for once ambush a Republican. Also, there’s little diversity and they only time they feature stories on minorities is when they talk about crime or immigration. That said, they are brilliant and delivering their product.

  • EddyJJ

    They’re in bed with the CONS though. Ick!!!!!

  • CindiK

    Fabulous job, Fox. The new 5-11 PM timeslots look great. Looking forward to the new lineup.

  • Mike Hunnicutt

    How can anyone not think Fox is the best.

  • Mike Hunnicutt

    Watch and observe ObeeOne

  • Bobby

    MSNBC makes me want to retch. CNN…well, sanctimonious is a good word to describe their attempts at news. Fox…well, it’s the only one left with any credibility and style. BUT…for pure presentation of news without so much analysis following every story, try Al Jazerra.
    I was prepared to hate it but one of the things Iike is that, like I said above, they do a story and then go on to another one. No talking heads telling me what to think and no ax to grind.
    But don’t get me wrong…I’ve noticed a definite slide to the left in the month they’ve been broadcasting. They confine their commentary to what is, in essence, 30 minute commentary “shows”
    For you FNC officials…I’m a fairly well-educated social security recipient who believes that the Republican party is a little too infested with pinko commies to be effective.

  • Kate

    What happened to Gretchen Carlson?

  • Marine53

    I have no problem with a lib on the show. I agree a lib is needed to show how ludicrous their arguments are. But I can not stand by and allow a POS like Beckel to continuously verbally assault southerners by calling them crackers, rednecks, hicks, etc. It has already been shown many times that if a white commentator was to use the same verbiage in reverse referencing the black race he would be run out on a rail.

  • Barbara Greminger

    If someone would just stop everyone talking at the same time !!! Don’t they know how irritating that is ?? It makes no sense.. some times they ask questions then won’t even let the other person answer.. I figure they must get paid by the word..

  • Norman S Stahl

    You obviously do not watch the Factor very often!

  • Norman S Stahl

    CNN is a front organization for CIA operatives. Think about it – who could get more access to our enemies than a group of ultra-liberal reporters. CNN Headline News is on 24/7 in every major military command center. Sometimes I would see a report on CNN and a few days later see it in Intel reports — the only difference was the intel reports identified sources & methods.

  • Norman S Stahl

    I disagree with Beckel, but I give him credit for standing his ground when he is steadfastly outnumbered.

  • Tired & Fed Up

    I used to watch Fox & Friends in the morning, but of late I have tuned out due to the new GMA format. I would like to see & hear NEWS! Not all this fluff & game crap. I tune into the FNC for hard core, hard hitting, investigative fact finding, & exposing NEWS that can’t be found on any other station! If I want to watch cream puff television I can tune into any other station out there. P.S. when interviewing people, let them talk instead of cutting them off for a commercial, times up, ran out of time. I understand FNC and other stations have a set program however, when a story needs to be told, than tell it in its entirety rather than cutting the interview off. I hate that! To much is at stake, we need a station that gives us the truth of what is going on in Washington & across this great land. That’s why we turn to & tune in to FNC. That’s what I look for from FNC. I don’t want sugar coated, half truth stories on either side of the aisle. People need to know the truth! If that means exposing a RHINO, so be it..get er done. Put some meat & potato’s on the table would ya…Thank you

  • Pepper

    You just proved that you are either trolling here or not paying attention. Which is it? Greta and O’Reilly grill everyone. Now you’d be mostly correct of we were only talking about Sean Hannity but not the station and their commentators as a whole. Hence, me thinks you a TROLL and another ridiculous ideologue.

  • Pepper

    Megan Kelly wasn’t “good in her Oprah hour”? Kelly is one hell of intelligent and considerate news commentator with incredible professional experience behind her. She is the epitome of fair and balanced. She will be an definite asset to the evening line-up.
    And now you won’t watch any of the Fox prime-time because you don’t like one of the commentators? What, are we 7-years-old and taking our ball home so that the others can’t play? This world is full of numskulls.

  • halotx

    Pepper, Over-the-top vitriole and name-calling suggests a liberal with a closed mind and defined agenda. To say all that about Kelly would indicate both because you truly can’t believe it. I personally don’t care what you think about my opinions; but for the sake of civility, I won’t stoop to name-calling.

  • Juanita Williams

    Nice to have the young lady sometimes on The Five. Very smart and doesn’t let Bob slow her down one bit, but, at the same time being very respectable.

  • Juanita Williams

    Forgot to add that I would like to see her on more often. I will soon be 85 and it is nice to know the young people are speaking out.

  • dfinch

    You mean like the liberals and Obama are in bed with MSNBC and CNN. Funny how that works.

  • dfinch

    Heck they don’t. I see them doing it everyday.

  • dfinch

    Those that have been programmed to think differently.

  • dfinch

    Fox and Friends is formatted for human interest stories. It helps folks to wake up and start their day so the stories are light but yet able to break-in with breaking news. The harder hitting news starts with Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum

  • gwedem5995

    I am a staunch Fox News person, but with the exception of Hannity, I don’t like a lot of their views, especially O’Reilly. I used to agree with him ab out 95% of the time, but now find him too narcasistic like Obama, both thinking they are the only ones who are right. I also think if he has someone on his show, he should listen to them without all the interrupting. The 3 most narcasistic people I know are Obama, O’Reilly and Donald Trump. Isn’t it funny that two of the people’s names begins with O.

  • J VA

    Roger Ailes deserves so much credit for the years he has spent at FNC. His wisdom and understanding of the cable news market is unprecedented. Ted Turner may have started the cable news industry, but Ailes has all other competitors eating dust.

  • Barb

    What happened to Gretchen Carlson???? No one speaks to that at all.

  • Mike

    What happned to Gretchen Carlson????

  • brenda

    beckel has very poor taste and manners. the way he sneaks in a controversial comment without allowing time for any sort of rebuttal reveals his poor taste and poor sportsmanship. It also reveals that he knows that what he is saying is a lie. My objection to their being a liberal on the five is not that he is liberal it is that beckel is so tacky and not at all above shouting and lying.

  • [email protected]

    I can’t stand O’Reilly and with the new changes I will start to watch something else and record Hannity.

  • cheri

    too bad Fox doesn’t tell the entire truth !! As a matter of fact…NO ONE does !

  • rural_americans

    eddyjj – you are wrong. Put yer big boy pants on and you’ll find FOX is the only news org that grills everyone. Why else would so many cowardly republicans refuse to be interviews at FOX? Only politicians/cowards like Obama and Bohner are afraid to answer O’Rielly’s tough questions.

  • rural_americans

    FOX destroys CNN and the rest for one reason…pursuit of truth. CNN and the rest of Obama’s propaganda wing, engage in suppression of critical information – especially information that is deleterious to the democrat regime. Obama and Hillary’s incompetence was on full blown display with Obama care and Benghazi, yet the main stream puppet media failed to report and indeed suppressed information that American’s have the right to know. Only FOX asks the pithy questions that a good momma would, when a kid screws up.

  • EddyJJ

    Being in bed is one thing, but making love to them is another. FNC is is the arm an arm of the GORP (Grand Old Racist Party formerly known as the GOP), and seeing them watch the Party implode over ObamaCare is too funny.

  • Frisco1522

    I’m glad that Shep Smith is off the daily tube. Maybe now I’ll watch Kelly after Bret Baier. I’d like to punch Beckel, but I would much rather have him than that disgusting Alan Colmes with his permanent sneer. O’Reilly is OK, but is far too rude to his guests and I have to turn him off when he keeps interrupting and shouting over them. Manners Bill, manners. Hannity is kind of like a soap opera in that you can miss him for a month and tune in and it’s still the same old same old. I like his politics, but he becomes tiresome.
    Give the new lineup a chance before throwing rocks.
    I also think that Global Warming is caused mostly by the women of FNC.

  • bspa

    I am 63. I think there are already too many pretty, young faces on the news. I certainly don’t want their opinions, so please keep them focused on news.

  • dfinch

    So what you’re not saying is “What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander”? Typical liberal bobblehead comment. Pathetic.

  • Barbara Greminger

    AMEN !!!!!

  • Barbara Greminger

    I want Shepard BACK !!!!! WAAAAAAAAA!!!!

  • VBoheme

    I love how that didn’t even address the fact that the admin has been paying media outlets through the nose to make them look good. It’s ok for them to do that though, as long as they’re not racist. I assume you’re also under the impression that anyone against POTUS for any reason is racist. To which all I can really do is pat you on the head condescendingly and walk away.

  • VBoheme

    Honestly, I’m glad Hassellbeck has a new home. The View is a joke. All flash, no substance. Her thoughts on racism, for one, scored major points for her in my book.


    I’m disappointed because I barely get home in time to watch O’Reilly. I will never get to watch Greta anymore, and I never miss her. I love Megyn, but kind of feel since she is the new addition, she should take the new time slot. What’s happening to Shep? Isn’t he on the slot Greta is taking?

  • Stan Bundy

    EddyJJ – I am from Corbin, KY. Perhaps you might have heard of that infamously racist town (one of the last to take down signs to the effect that blacks traveling through better not let the sun go down on them there, in the 70s). It’s overwhemingly Democrat – as are all the true racists.

    Of course, you’re too centered in the make-believe world of the “pro-(re)gressives” to understand that the KKK and the southern bigots have always been Democratic (when they had a party), MLK Jr. was a Republican (the party that FREED the slaves), and the only thing imploding concerning Obamacare IS Obamacare.

  • Will R

    Not hearing the truth makes liberals feel better about their hate and ignorance.

  • Eliott

    I agree with you 100%. It is the same when you hear someone say either O’Reilly, Hannity or Limbaugh are nothing but liars and when you ask them give me one example, they give you a Jackie Gleason “humida humida humida.

  • There are Republican politicians on Fox News ALL THE TIME. What are you smoking? You might want to give some to the people commenting above you since they seem to be living on some kind of alternate universe.

  • alterego61

    You must be an Obama staffer trying to spread your liberal poison through media.

  • alterego61

    Just remember, the first premise in good tactics is know your enemy

  • dago

    Gretchen has her own show @2PM called “the Real Story with Gretchen Carlson – premiered today 9/30/13

  • Tom Joseph

    Robert I view them as honest vs bs from the others. If that makes them far rt then I’m honest. Lol

  • ruee

    where is Allison Camorote