NEW YORK — Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ wildly popular “The O’Reilly Factor,” has extended his contract for six years in a deal estimated at more than $24 million (Daily Variety, March 13).
Credited with driving the cable news net’s growth, O’Reilly has now entered the same paycheck ballpark as CNN’s Larry King, who reportedly earns $7 million annually. Fox News declined to disclose financial terms of the deal, but sources said that O’Reilly will be raking in $4 million to $7 million per year, plus generous incentive bonuses. He had previously been earning $1.3 million annually. His deal was set to expire at the end of November.
In addition to continuing his duties as anchor of “The O’Reilly Factor,” pact calls for O’Reilly to host a series of specials on Fox Broadcasting Network, several appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and an option to host a new radio show.
“I am pleased to continue my relationship with Fox and my boss Roger Ailes, because they have provided me with a forum that is clearly focused and geared toward working America,” said O’Reilly in a statement. “Roger believed in ‘The Factor’ from the beginning and that was an important component in my decision.”
Rumors had circulated earlier in the week that Time Warner AOL was interested in wooing O’Reilly to the media empire. A CNN source said the 24-hour news cabler had no intention of pursuing O’Reilly.
In terms of viewership, O’Reilly is giving King a run for his money. Year-to-date, “The O’Reilly Factor” is attracting an average of 1.08 million viewers, while “Larry King Live” is averaging 1.17 million viewers even though CNN is available in 20 million more homes than Fox News.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s book “The O’Reilly Factor: The Good, The Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 26 consecutive weeks. Prior to joining Fox News, O’Reilly anchored “Inside Edition.”