On Wednesday, Fox News announced that it was parting ways with “The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly, whose ratings dominated the network. But due to a contract O’Reilly signed late last month, he’ll be walking away with quite a sizable severance package.
“It is a staggering amount,” a source involved in the exit maneuverings told CNN Money. The outlet reported that Fox will pay O’Reilly “tens of millions of dollars.” Due to a confidentiality agreement, 21st Century Fox and O’Reilly’s representatives would not acknowledge the payout.
But two well-placed sources told CNN Money that O’Reilly will be paid handsomely as he leaves the network, primarily because he signed a new contract in March.
The two sources independently confirmed that the new contract was worth about $25 million per year. This contrasted with earlier news reports estimating the new contract’s worth at between $18 and $20 million per year.
“The O’Reilly Factor” consistently got Fox its best ratings, drawing almost 4 million viewers a night and generating more than $446 million in advertising revenue between 2014 and 2016, according to Kantar Media.
CNN Money’s two sources said the contract extended through the next presidential election, and was set to expire either at the end of 2020 or sometime in 2021. O’Reilly will not be paid the entire amount he was owed, however, because the new contract also incorporated some “outs” for the network.
Fox’s founding CEO Roger Ailes, by contrast, was paid the entire remainder of his contract when he resigned under pressure last summer. Ailes was paid more than $40 million on his way out the door, and recently bought a $36 million oceanfront home in Florida, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
O’Reilly is still likely to make news in the coming months. While advertisers abandoned his show in droves after The New York Times exposé about the host’s sexual harassment settlements, viewers did not. “The O’Reilly Factor” averaged 3.71 million viewers over the five nights following the Times story, a 12 percent increase over the 3.31 million average nightly viewers who watched the week before, according to the Nielsen company.
Besides this continuing popularity, O’Reilly’s lawyer announced a forthcoming release of “irrefutable” evidence that liberal organizations colluded to destroy the former Fox host.
“Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthythist America,” the former host’s attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, declared in a statement. “This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.”
O'Reilly's lawyer goes on offensive. Says accusations are part of "unprecedented" campaign in "post-McCarthyist America" led by "far-left." pic.twitter.com/u4guK8XBDm
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) April 18, 2017
Kasowitz further added, “That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable.”
Perhaps even more important is the former Fox host’s relationship with President Donald Trump, who publicly defended O’Reilly shortly after the Times exposé dropped.
O’Reilly may be out at Fox, but that doesn’t mean you’ve heard the last of him.