by Mike Brest · December 12, 2019
Just over two years after Eric Bolling parted with Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations, he is taking on his old network with a new show airing nationwide on competitor Sinclair.
Bolling’s show America This Week, airing on nearly 200 local television stations in almost 100 markets, launched in April after executive chairman David Smith asked the former Fox anchor to go on a town hall tour around the United States discussing the opioid epidemic, an issue close to him after his son’s overdose death at 19. Bolling’s town halls gained attention for his prominent guests, which included first lady Melania Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and several cabinet members.
After the town halls, Smith and Bolling, 56, began discussing a potential show. Bolling, who was a commodities trader and later brought that experience to CNBC where he launched Fast Money in 2006, decided he wanted it to be as if “you took [Sean] Hannity added [Bill] O’Reilly and divided it by two,” he told the Washington Examiner. The former Fox host described the success of his show, which has featured recent interviews with President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as proof that there is an “appetite for national news at the local level.”
America This Week gets more viewers than the cable news networks when comparing the aggregate number of viewers who are watching his show from each of the stations airing it with the competing programming on CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News, according to Nielsen Media Research. Bolling’s show also dominates in the 25-54 key age demographic.
Bolling, a former minor league third baseman, pointed to the vast popularity of local news compared to cable news as an advantage that he was capitalizing on. “I think that’s why I get so many great guests from the political worlds. I’m talking literally to people who don’t have a strong opinion necessarily or haven’t made up their mind on whether they like Trump or hate Trump. If they knew they’re completely a Democrat and going to vote Democrat, they be subscribing to CNN or MSNBC. If they knew they’re going to be straight up a Republican ticket, they’d likely to go to Fox,” he explained.
He theorized that the decline in television viewership with younger audiences was happening at a slower rate for local news because Sinclair is provided in basic television packages while cable costs extra.
Bolling highlighted a segment on his show that tends to see viewership dip as one of his favorites. Every week, he brings on a straight news reporter, typically from an outlet that leans left, for “Balls and Strikes.” During the segment, Bolling quizzes the reporter without asking for or wanting their opinion. He explained that America This Week initially had difficulties booking reporters because they were skeptical about being kept away from opinion, but he has now hosted reporters from Time, Washington Post, and Politico.
While it wasn’t generating buzz among viewers, he said he was “going to keep it in the show for now unless it becomes a problem.”