It was supposed to be a temporary fix to fill the 5:00 PM slot recently vacated by Glenn Beck. Two years later, “The Five” has become a staple for the Fox News’ prime time line-up, getting ratings that trounce the competition on a nightly basis. On the day Beck signed off, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, also in the 5:00 slot, interviewed Media Matters’ creepy leader David Brock and congratulated him on the air for removing his competition. Today, Matthews is still floundering in the ratings with “The Five” receiving nearly four times his ratings in the key A 25-54 ratings category.
The Associated Press takes notice of the show’s success:
The program’s deceptively simple premise is five folks sitting around a table at 5 p.m., kicking around the day’s news and hot topics. “The Five” has emerged as Fox’s second most popular show this year, behind only Bill O’Reilly, despite not having the larger pool of potential viewers that prime time usually provides.
The AP traces the origins of the show to Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes:
He was mixing and matching personalities to see who might fit into a discussion format. There are actually seven who work on “The Five,” allowing for substitutions. Cast members are Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor who once worked at Court TV; veteran Fox analyst Juan Williams; Dana Perino, White House press secretary for President George W. Bush; campaign strategist Bob Beckel, who ran Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984; Republican consultant Andrea Tantaros; libertarian satirist Greg Gutfeld, who hosts the wee-hours Fox show “Red Eye”; and (Fox Business Host Eric) Bolling.
They shot two test episodes and “the chemistry … was undeniable,” Tantaros said. “When they said it was temporary, I thought, `Wow, but this is really fun.'”
Publicly, “The Five” was billed as a summer replacement series for Beck. It probably would have remained so if it didn’t click. Instead, the summer essentially served as a successful pilot for a network that does not introduce many new shows.
It is averaging 2 million viewers so far this year, up from just under 1.5 million during its first six months, according to the Nielsen Co. Beck brought new viewers to a time slot usually considered slow, and now “The Five” has a larger audience than Beck had during his final year at Fox.