Fox News has finally announced how Megyn Kelly will fit into its crowded prime-time lineup: by moving Greta Van Susteren to 7 p.m., moving Sean Hannity to 10 p.m., and giving Hannity's old 9 p.m. timeslot to Kelly. Van Susteren's show will replace Shepard Smith's "The Fox Report," as Smith's role is changing at the news channel: he's now heading up their breaking news team.
That news might be something of a shock to fans of Van Susteren's "On The Record." When Kelly's promotion to the cable channel's crowded prime time lineup was announced in July, Van Susteren promised that she wasn't going to leave prime time, citing her contract. As it turns out, the only prime timer staying put at the channel is Bill O'Reilly, who keeps his 8 p.m. slot. But according to a statement posted by Van Susteren shortly after the announcement, her time change was her idea, not the network's:
The 7pm opened up...and I saw my opening, spoke to Roger Ailes who makes all the decisions (we had spoken months earlier, too, but only in general terms and never specific), and voila! It happened!
I am extremely grateful to Roger Ailes for letting me and letting us have this new challenge. I don’t intend to let him down and neither does our very smart and hardworking staff of ON THE RECORD...
...Ok, I confess, there is a part of me that does think it will be fun to get home early by 9pm each night! I won’t have to dodge the late night drunks on DC streets…or eat all my meals at the vending machine in the break room (but I may miss those Cheetos and DOTS! but perhaps that can be lunch?)
I am thrilled and the staff is thrilled. I hope you are, too, because you are very important to us. I feel like we all earned it together. It would not have happened without your loyalty to us. You need to join us at 7pm (or yes, DVR us!!) See you at 7pm.
But while Smith's old time slot is no joke and may be exactly what Van Susteren wants, it's not, strictly speaking, "prime time." That's traditionally considered to be 8-11 p.m.. So how will the network frame the move? By simply changing the definition of "prime time." Network chief Roger Ailes said that the shuffle is actually an expansion of what the network considers "prime time," by at least an hour. Here's his statement to Deadline:
As the network continues to dominate with the top 13 programs in cable news, FOX News already redefined primetime viewing to extend well beyond the antiquated 8-11PM format. We’ve developed a deep bench of engaging and thought-provoking personalities that have grown with FOX News as it has evolved into the most influential and successful cable network in television. These changes will enable the network to continue setting the industry standard for years to come.
While the shuffle might not be what many were expecting — Van Susteren's held down the 10 p.m. slot for over a decade — Kelly's new time slot itself isn't a total surprise. The network indicated in early August that she was bound for Sean Hannity's old slot. The new schedule goes into effect on October 7.