On May 1, Fox News Channeldebuted The Fox News Specialists, a daily 5 p.m. ET news and talk show anchored by Eric Bolling, Katherine Timpf and Eboni K. Williams. The show is part of the network’s programming reshuffle after the less-than-graceful departure of Bill O’Reilly. Bolling used to co-host The Five at 5 p.m., but that moved to 9, creating an opening for the new experiment that Specialists represents.
While it's too early to get a meaningful read on the ratings, we took a look at viewer reception on social media as well as advertiser support so far since all eyes are on the show, which even had President Donald Trump helping kick it off.
According to Canvs, the language analytics company that measures emotions around content, there were 5,449 Emotional Reactions (ERs) around the premiere, which included excerpts from Bolling’s exclusive interview with Trump. The subsequent episodes last week had (as you’d expect) lower numbers: 2,289 on Tuesday, 1,558 ERs on Wednesday, 2,666 on Thursday and 1,324 on Friday.
Related: Fox News Co-President Bill Shine Departs Network
What’s interesting is the specific emotional response to the show so far. Usually “love” is the most frequently expressed emotion across TV programming; people tend to tune into the shows that they love. But in this case, “hate” led the way, appearing in 16.8% of ERs across the first five episodes, compared to 15.6% for “love.”
Now, that’s not to say all those ERs were about hating the show itself (although to be honest, reading through the social media comments, there is a lot of criticism, including plenty that targets the anchors). Current events and politics especially are hot buttons these days, with people quick to express raw emotion, including anger and disgust, as they watch cable news.
That said, the Fox News viewers who are most vocal on social media last week—many of whom are still upset about O’Reilly’s departure and aren’t exactly happy about the network’s other programming changes—seem pretty cranky.
This show blows. Horrible. #FoxNewsSpecialists
— JohnCap84 (@Johncap84) May 2, 2017
— Hava Batia (@HavBat22) May 3, 2017
It wasn’t all negative — many viewers sent encouraging messages in particular to the anchors.
@KatTimpf You're doing fantastic'
— Bernard Stock (@Stockb3) May 1, 2017
@ericbolling Great first show
— scott stevens (@scott219a) May 1, 2017
@EboniKWilliams is awesome. That is all.
— sarah williams. (@SarahWilliamsTX) May 3, 2017
Poor @ericbolling love him! Should be in Primetime!!
— rk.duff (@RachkDuff) May 1, 2017
A comparable time period for The Five (March 6-10) yielded 3,441 ERs, 2,278 ERs, 1,950 ERs, 1,917 ERs and 1,092 ERs — meaning that so far, Specialists is evoking more conversation in the same time slot. But love (20.5%) trumped hate (10.1%) during those episodes of The Five.
@TheFive I love you Guys! Even Bob!
— Shanika (@Shanika0078) March 8, 2017
@TheFive I love your show! I watch everyday.
— Janice Mathew Case. (@sunnysk206) March 7, 2017
Moving on to the advertisers, we worked with iSpot.tv to look at which industries and brands led in spending for The O’Reilly Factor before its cancellation and the 5 p.m. version of The Five (Jan. 1-March 31, purposely excluding the tumultuous month of April), and which ones have shelled out for The Fox News Specialists so far:
Roseland Capital (“Safeguard Your Wealth with Gold and Silver from Rosland Capital”) is the only top-five spender backing all three shows thus far, while Lear Capital and Nutrisystem have backed both The Five and Specialists. And overall, the investment industry tops the list for each show.
Will Fox News viewers keep watching The Fox News Specialists and start expressing as much love for it as the former occupant of the 5 p.m. timeslot? And will advertisers want to reach those viewers? Stay tuned.