The early returns are in — as Fox News sets out on its future without longtime cable news ratings king Bill O’Reilly in the fold. And while it might be premature for the network to take a victory lap, Wednesday night’s numbers suggest that there’s at least a chance that the network won’t take the ratings hit that Fox News executives undoubtedly fear.

According to Nielsen (via CNN), the O’Reilly-less Factor pulled in 3.3 million viewers on Wednesday, up from 2.7 million the night before.

Dana Perino was in the pilot’s seat for Wednesday’s broadcast, as she was on Tuesday. On Monday, Tucker Carlson takes over the slot, moving up from 9 pm.

On April 11, the broadcast that turned out to be Bill O’Reilly’s last, the Factor drew 3.6 million viewers.

So was Wednesday’s surge just an initial bit of viewer curiosity? Or will Tucker Carlson and The Five in their new timeslots stop the bleeding?

[image via screengrab]


Follow Joe DePaolo (@joe_depaolo) on Twitter

Have a tip we should know?