When Glenn Beck bid farewell to his daily cable TV audience in June, Fox News had to have mixed feelings. One one hand, they were rid of a polarizing political maverick who critics argued undermined their credibility as a serious news organization and cost them advertisers. On the other hand, Beck was consistent ratings gold; he clobbered the cable competition in his 5 p.m. timeslot like no one before.
But two months later, Fox is sitting pretty. After a slow start, The Five, Fox’s summer replacement show for Beck, has delivered solid ratings with a fraction of the backlash. The show, which features a rotating roundtable of low-profile hosts such as Greg Gutfeld, Andrew Napolitano, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Dana Perino, wraps up August averaging 1.5 million viewers (369,000 in the 25-54 demographic). Though that’s slightly below Beck’s numbers during his last month on the air (1.6 million; 387,000 in 25-54), it’s significantly above what some analysts predicted and far beyond its CNN and MSBNC competition. Plus, the marginal loss in viewers is more than redeemed by the fact that The Five is more advertiser-friendly than Beck’s program — which endured costly boycotts. Though Fox News hasn’t yet decided whether The Five will see the fall, the show’s strength has certainly proved that there’s life after Glenn at 5 p.m.