Tucker Carlson Kicks Off New Time Slot With Message to Bill O’Reilly Fans (Video)

“I watched Bill O’Reilly at this hour for years and I always marveled at how well prepared he was,” host says

Tucker Carlson officially took over Bill O’Reilly‘s 8 p.m. ET Fox News’ time slot on Monday night, and began his program with a message to viewers who made “The O’Reilly Factor” the most-watched show in cable news for nearly two decades.

“For those of you tuning in expecting to see someone different in this anchor chair, I know the feeling well. I watched Bill O’Reilly at this hour for years and I always marveled at how well prepared he was, how tough he was and how crisply and directly he expressed his views,” Carlson said. “What O’Reilly did was not easy.”

The “Tucker Carlson Tonight” host continued: “He set a high bar and I’m gonna do my best to meet it. Thanks for sticking with us.”

Carlson moved from 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET to replace O’Reilly, who was fired from Fox News Channel amid allegations of sexual harassment. “The Five” moved to 9 p.m. and a new show featuring Fox News host Eric Bolling will launch at 5 p.m. ET next week.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” has moved three times since launching less than a year ago as a replacement for Greta Van Susteren and then moving to primetime to replace Megyn Kelly. The show has been extremely successful and Fox News execs hope it can stick at 8 p.m. ET and Carlson can emerge as the new face of the network.

Earlier Monday O’Reilly released a podcast with his first public comments since Fox News’ decision to part ways.

“I am sad that I’m not on television anymore,” the former king of cable news said on his “No Spin News” podcast. “I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can’t say a lot, because there’s much stuff going on right now.”

O’Reilly continued: “I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised — but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am.”

O’Reilly was let go last week following a New York Times report that he and the network had paid out $13 million to five women who accused him of harassment or misconduct.

Check out the video above.