We are more than eight months removed from Martha MacCallum‘s final broadcast in the weekday 7 p.m. timeslot, and Fox News Channel has still yet to name her permanent replacement. In mid-January, the network announced it was moving MacCallum from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m. (many experts say this was done partly because of ratings issues), and turning the weekday 7 p.m. hour into an opinion hour with the launch of a new show named Fox News Primetime. MacCallum had spent four years as the face of the 7 p.m. hour.
It’s rare for a network to operate without a permanent host for this many months, particularly in an evening hour. We don’t believe Fox News has even taken this long to choose a permanent solo-host. The last time the 7 p.m. slot opened up was the beginning of 2017, when it was announced that MacCallum would move from mid-mornings to 7 p.m. and then-7 p.m. host Tucker Carlson would be promoted to 9 p.m. (he’s now at 8 p.m., of course).
On Jan. 18, longtime Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade became the first of what has ended up being a significant number of rotating hosts for Fox News Primetime. Some guest hosts, like Kilmeade, host existing FNC shows, while others are Fox News contributors. In addition to Kilmeade, guest-hosts have included Maria Bartiromo, Trey Gowdy, Jesse Watters, Jeanine Pirro, Will Cain, Tammy Bruce, Pete Hegseth, Mark Steyn, Rachel Campos-Duffy, Katie Pavlich, Lawrence Jones and Ben Domenech. Many of these FNC personalities have hosted the program for multiple weeks, and the Nielsen ratings have been stronger at 7 p.m. ever since the network switched from news to opinion.
Gowdy, for instance, averaged some of the largest total audiences of any Fox News Primetime guest-host early on and now has his own show, Sunday Night in America, airing at 7 p.m. Sundays on Fox News.
FNC personalities who have hosted at one week of Primetime, beginning with the week of May 30 through the current week are: Hegseth (hosting this week), Jones, Campos-Duffy, Bruce, Watters, Cain, Jones, Domenech, Bruce, Kilmeade, Hegseth, Steyn, Watters, Cain, Kilmeade, Bruce and Domenech.
So, who do we think is getting the gig? The network could go with someone with significant hosting experience like Kilmeade, a longtime Fox Newser who has certainly paid his dues, getting up when it’s still dark out to co-host the mornings; or Watters, who could move from weekend primetime and give one of the contributors their start on weekends (similar to what the network did with Gowdy— giving him Sundays at 7 p.m.). Out of the contributors to lead the hour, Bruce has stood out (and would give the network back-to-back female hosts in weekend prime if Watters moves to the weekday slot) and Jones has made noticeable progress. The network could also shift one of its weekend morning hosts—Campos-Duffy, Hegseth or Cain—to primetime, and give the lineup a jolt of youth.
As for what is causing the delay in naming a new host, Fox News is not commenting on the network’s plans for 7 p.m. and its timetable for selecting a replacement.
Of course, Fox News Primetime has been beating its timeslot competition with ease in recent months, so perhaps the network just likes their rotation and is taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy, and will continue on the rotating host path indefinitely; or perhaps there isn’t a singular candidate they especially love for the hour right now. Or maybe the network will finally name someone to permanently host the hour in the near future.
We’ll see what happens.