Tucker Carlson is likely to move into the 8 p.m. hour if Bill O'Reilly exits Fox News, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Carlson replaced Megyn Kelly when she left last January and his show - Tucker Carlson Tonight - was an immediate hit, helped by record tune in overall during the early tumultuous days of the administration of Donald Trump. Talk show host Laura Ingraham also is among those being considered.
Internal candidates for the 9 p.m. hour include Dana Perino and Eric Bolling. Both are currently hosts on The Five and have filled in for O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. Factor contributor Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld are seen as dark horse contenders.
But some executives would like to see some gender diversity in primetime and another internal candidate could be Kimberly Guilfoyle. When Megyn Kelly left last January, executives discussed moving Martha MacCallum to 9 p.m., but the host is said to have expressed a desire to maintain her daytime schedule.
A representative for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile executives at 21st Century Fox and Fox News are said to have concluded that Bill O'Reilly will exit the network where he has presided as the No. 1 cable news personality for 15 years. The movement comes as the Murdoch family - patriarch Rupert and sons James and Lachlan, who have day-to-day oversight of 21st Century Fox - are in agreement about O'Reilly's fate. However, they are still awaiting a report from law firm Paul, Weiss regarding sexual harassment complaints filed by multiple women. O'Reilly has denied all of the allegations.
An announcement about O'Reilly's fate is expected before he returns from vacation on April 24. If he leaves, it's unclear if he will be back on the air to say farewell to his loyal audience. According to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, executives at Fox News are "leaning against allowing him to have a sign off." The other sticking point is, of course, money. Earlier this year, executives extended O'Reilly's contract for about $20 million annually.
Representatives for 21st Century Fox declined to comment.
O'Reilly's ratings reign atop cable news has been virtually uncontested throughout his tenure. Through the first quarter of 2017, his 8 p.m. hour ranked No. 1 by both key measures with an average 3.98 million viewers and 728,000 adults 25-54. March and April have brought increased demo wins for MSNBC's resurgent Rachel Maddow, who airs at 9 p.m, but O'Reilly's total audience has never been in doubt. A
s for one of his likely time slot heirs, Tucker Carlson has developed a swift following at Fox News. He wasn't even in primetime at the top of the year, but his move to Megyn Kelly's old 9 o'clock hour has been a huge success. He's now No. 2 in cable news with an average 3.3 million viewers and 689,000 adults 25-54.