'News Hour' pilot bows with 1.5 mil viewers

It got mixed reviews, but Fox News Channel’s take on news satire scored with the only voters that matter.

Heavily promoted on FNC and on conservative talkradio, the first pilot episode of “The ½ Hour News Hour” premiered with nearly 1.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s a big number for an unknown show in a Sunday timeslot.

First episode opened with some conservative star power, with Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter hamming it up as fictional — or perhaps fantasy — president and vice president in the Oval Office.

The show gained about 300,000 from its lead-in, “Hannity’s America,” and increased FNC’s fourth-quarter average for Sunday at 10 p.m. by 69%. In the adults 25-54 demo, the show took 499,000 viewers, up 94% from its timeslot average.

FNC topper Roger Ailes is weighing whether to commit long-term to the series, created and produced by “24” creator Joel Surnow and co-exec producer Manny Coto.

Pilot for the conservative take on news satire took aim at Hillary Clinton, the ACLU, politically correct children’s lit and Hollywood political activists. The Washington Post’s Tom Shales summed up in his review: “In a nutshell: It isn’t terrible.”

But in terms of ratings, its opening number puts it in a league with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” which averages 1.6 million, and “The Colbert Report,” which averages 1.2 million.

In a sign of the high number of viewers who tuned in specifically for the premiere, the aud dropoff for the following show, “The Line-Up,” was nearly 50%.

A repeat of the first episode is skedded for Sunday. The second episode airs March 4.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more