Fox News Channel plans to fill its 11 p.m. weeknight hour with an “irreverent” late-night show from host Greg Gutfeld, the latest in a series of programming maneuvers the Fox Corporation-owned outlet has put into place in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election as it grapples with recent viewership declines.
The news show currently airing at 11 p.m., “Fox News @ Night,” anchored by Shannon Bream, will move to midnight. Fox expects to launch Gutfleld’s new program in the second quarter of 2021.
The moves see Fox News continuing to expand opinion programming on it schedule. Fox News recently moved 7 p.m. host Martha MacCallum to the 3 p.m. hour and filled the early-evening slot with an opinion show that relies on a rotating cast of hosts. The new late-night show will give rise to a schedule that relies on opinion programming for five hours each night, as opposed to three primetime hours in the past.
The Fox News weekday schedule has not been known in the past for making people laugh. Indeed, some critics of the network do anything but when watching primetime mainstays like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham espouse conservative views. But executives at the network have long supported Gutfeld, a former magazine editor whose shoot-from-the-hip demeanor has prompted Fox to test him in unorthodox formats. Gutfeld has helmed a program called “Red Eye” that aired in the wee hours of the morning, or a Saturday-evening program Fox has tried to promote as a competitor to late-night fare hosted by Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel. He has also been a regular on “The Five.”
Executives believe the programming moves will help Fox News. “We fully expect that the overall news audience will normalize and our share of ratings will dominate,” said Lachlan Murdoch. the CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corp., while speaking to investors Tuesday. ” In fact, this trend is already beginning as we have seen substantial share gains versus our competition since the inauguration.”
His comedy hour on Saturdays has relied on parodies of current events as well as monologues. “People say they are interested in a different perspective in terms of popular culture, coming from somewhere that isn’t center left,”Gutfeld, told Variety in 2019. “We provide a perspective that isn’t part of the shared assumptions of late-night TV.” He bills himself as libertarian.
It’s not the first time Fox News Channel has considered humor as a proposition. In 2007, Fox News ran more than a dozen episodes of “The ½ Hour News Hour,” a Sunday-night program that had fictional anchors making fun of headlines. Comedian Dennis Miller made contributions. The program was produced by Joel Surnow, a co-creator of the popular spy serial “24.”
“People need a reason to laugh. Greg’s unique and irreverent talk show has been an incredible success, often beating the late night broadcast competition, despite its Saturday timeslot,” said Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, in a statement. “With one of the most loyal and engaged audiences in cable news, we’re thrilled to bring the show to weekday primetime and further solidify Greg’s place among late night television stars.”