NEW YORK — Through four days of Bill O’Reilly’s vacation, his show’s viewership declined by 23 per cent in the hands of substitutes Dana Perino, Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld.
O’Reilly is on a nearly two-week vacation at the same time Fox News Channel’s parent company looks into a woman’s accusation that her career was slowed when she spurned his advances. Dozens of his show’s advertisers have fled following reports of harassment settlements paid to other women. O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.
Nielsen company figures show that so far, viewers aren’t as interested in “The O’Reilly Factor” without O’Reilly. Perino has done the best, with her 3.15 million viewers on Monday down 16 per cent from O’Reilly’s performance a week earlier. Bolling also showed a 16 per cent drop from O’Reilly a week earlier, and he reached 3.11 million viewers.
The 2.32 million who watched Gutfeld on Friday was down 39 per cent from the previous Friday and, alarmingly, was even lower than Tucker Carlson’s audience at 9 p.m. Carlson usually benefits from O’Reilly’s strong lead-in.
Still, the substitutes beat their cable news competition. And Fox pointed out that the network finished last week ahead of all cable networks in viewership, as it has for much of this year.
O’Reilly’s viewership spiked in the days following an April 2 New York Times report on the harassment allegations. In the week that followed, viewership increased to an average of 3.71 million, up 12 per cent from the week before the report and 28 per cent over the same week in 2016.
O’Reilly averaged nearly 4 million viewers a night for the first three months of 2017, his best performance ever. Viewership tends to drop with the arrival of daylight savings time.
Meanwhile on Monday, a women’s group said it planned to hire an airplane with a banner, as well as drop off petitions at Fox News Channel’s New York headquarters, calling for O’Reilly to lose his job at the network.