In a story destined for the "not so surprising" folder here on TV Rage, Deadline.com is reporting that highly rated conservative firebrands Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are set to re-sign with the network all the way through the 2016 Presidential election, all to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars. The two respectively host the #1 and #2 shows on both FOX and all of cable news.
While again, it's not surprising that FOX would cut a huge check to retain its star players, what is noteworthy is just how long these two men have controlled cable news. It's well known that FOX reguarly outstrips competitors MSNBC and CNN by very large ratings margins, and nothing crushes the competition like the O'Reilly and Hannity tag team. Also of note is that 2016 will mark the 20 year anniversaries of both men with the cable news giant. O'Reilly started out hosting a program entitled The O'Reilly Report (which makes Stephen Colbert's choice of title doubly funny), that eventually morphed into the Factor that we all know today. Hannity of course began as the conservative side of Hannity & Colmes in which the hosts would debate and offer opposing views on the issues of the day. Colmes eventually got axed, and now Hannity anchors his own self-titled program.
O'Reilly's position over the last few years has only grown stronger, as there have been many shakeups in the 8pm timeslot. Keith Olbermann (who usually placed #3 in the primetime ratings before his abrupt exit from MSNBC) had another tiff with Current and is now unemployed. Lawrence O'Donnell attempted to replace Olbermann valiantly, but was mercilessly destroyed by O'Reilly on a nightly basis. Then came Ed Schultz, who's show does only slightly better. With these new multi-year deals, FOX News seems poised to rule cable news with a iron fist for years and maybe even decades to come.
Do you watch either O'Reilly or Hannity's programs? What about these two men do you think draws people in in such numbers?