(AP) — Fox News Channel has given its 7 p.m. Eastern hour on weeknights to opinion host Jesse Watters, whose star has risen at the network with the ratings success of “The Five,” where he is one of the regular panelists.
Watters will remain on “The Five,” but will give up his Saturday night show “Watters’ World,” Fox said on Monday.
Fox’s Martha MacCallum used to host a more news-oriented program at 7 p.m., but a year ago the network moved her to daytime when rival Newsmax began getting traction at that hour with host Greg Kelly, although Fox has said the change wasn’t related. For the past year, Fox has rotated a series of guest hosts, including Watters, doing opinion shows at 7 p.m.
“Jesse’s versatility and hosting acumen has grown exponentially over the last five years, and he has developed a deep connection to the audience,” said Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media.
The announcement came less than three weeks after Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Watters should be fired for using the phrase “kill shot” in a speech urging young conservatives to confront Fauci in a hostile interview.
Fox said that Watters’ words had been taken out of context.
Particularly in the past year, Fox has beefed up its opinion content. Watters will be followed in the evenings by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Watters, 43, started with Fox News in 2002 as a production assistant and quickly gained an on-air role conducting hostile man-on-the-street interviews for then-Fox star Bill O’Reilly. He was elevated to his own weekend show and a role on “The Five” in 2017.
That talk show, with the format of four conservative commentators and one Democrat talking about the news of the day, has surged in popularity, often reaching more viewers than Fox’s prime-time lineup. One panelist, Greg Gutfeld, started his own late-night show on Fox last year, while Dana Perino co-hosts a morning show.
There’s no word on whether Watters’ mother will follow him. In a recurring segment on “The Five,” Watters reads on the air critical texts sent by his liberal mother, including once in 2019 when she wrote, “Please be assured that despite your wretched political orientation I love you forever.”
He’ll start at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24. His show will be called “Jesse Watters Primetime” — something of a misnomer since television prime time begins at 8 p.m. on weeknights.