Tucker Carlson will take over Megyn Kelly’s 9 p.m. time slot after she leaves, Fox News announced on Thursday.
Additionally, Martha MacCallum will move to Carlson’s current 7 p.m. spot for at least the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
“In less than two months, Tucker has taken cable news by storm with his spirited interviews and consistently strong performance. Viewers have overwhelmingly responded to the show and we look forward to him being a part of Fox News’ powerful primetime line-up,” 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.
Kelly, who announced her decision to move to NBC News earlier this week, will have her last day on the top cable news channel on Friday. Carlson’s show moves to 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, while MacCallum’s new show will start on Jan. 16 with Bret Baier working 6-8 p.m. in the meantime.
MacCallum’s 7 p.m. show will be called “The First 100 Days,” and it’s still undecided if she will keep the time slot after that. Either way, she recently signed a new multi-year deal with Fox News. Shannon Bream will co-anchor “America’s Newsroom: with Bill Hemmer in MacCallum’s absence.
“Martha is a versatile and skilled anchor who has proven to be an essential component of our news programming. For the last 12 years, our viewers have trusted her reporting and we are pleased she will be part of our primetime line-up for the first 100 days of the new presidency,” Murdoch said.
Carlson took over the 7 p.m. ET time slot formerly occupied by Greta Van Susteren back on Nov. 14 and ratings haven’t slowed down since then. The first week of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was the third highest-rated week of the year for Fox News during the 7 p.m. hour, behind only election week and the Republican National Convention coverage.
In the first four weeks of the show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” averaged 2.9 million viewers and 537,000 in the key demo of adults age 25-54, topping CNN’s “Erin Burnett Outfront” and MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” combined in both categories.
“I just want to make a show that I would watch. I’m mostly a news reader, so I always think when I’m reading the stories, ‘I wish I could talk to the person in the story,’” Carlson told TheWrap last month. “Less analysis and more interviews with people who are in the news, maybe who aren’t on television a lot but are directly connected to the story.”
Carlson prefers to have “participants” from the news on his program, and the plan has paid off. He’s had a variety of guests over the first four weeks of the show, including New York Times public editor Liz Spayd, Newsweek’s Matt Cooper, Martin Shkreli and even someone who burnt an American flag.
Many of these guests wouldn’t typically appear on Fox News, but are willing to debate Carlson when he calls on them. Carlson said the reason is a combination of his relationships he’s built over the years and the inviting format of the show that results in left-leaning pundits to appear on his show.
“I know a lot of liberals. This is my 25th year in the media. I’ve lived in a very liberal world my whole life. I like, by the way, a lot of the people in it,” Carlson said. “I know a lot of people … I like to think that we give them a chance to talk. There is no point in having someone on if you don’t let them say what they think.”
Fox News finished 2016 as the most-watched basic cable network in prime time and total day, a first for the network that has been around since 1996.
The ratings success came despite the ouster of Fox News founder and chairman Roger Ailes last summer amid embarrassing sexual harassment allegations. The post-Ailes team of Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine stepped up and proved that not much can deter Fox News’ loyal viewers.