O’Reilly Meets Colbert Creates Huge Ratings Spikes
As reported by NewsBusters, Bill O’Reilly and Stephen Colbert squared off Thursday evening in well-publicized meetings on each other’s popular programs. According to the Los Angeles Times, this was a ratings bonanza for both:
Colbert helped O'Reilly draw more than 2.9 million viewers, a boost of 46% over last quarter and a hike of 67% among 25- to 54-year-old viewers.
With O'Reilly on his show, Colbert garnered 1.64 million viewers, up 50% over last quarter, and his biggest audience ever.
Nice numbers. The article also addressed how cordial the meeting between the two stars was, and included an interesting video of the event created by the Associated Press:
The event — billed by Colbert as "the greatest TV crossover since the Flintstones met the Jetsons" — promised to be a promotional bonanza for both men.
ID or not, Colbert was ushered right in.
"Do we have a drum roll?" the Fox News host quipped as his imitator entered the studio.
The two men, both in dark pinstripe suits, shook hands firmly.
"You're going to be in character here; I'm not going to be able to get one straight answer outta ya, am I?" O'Reilly asked.
"Bill, I promise you, I'm going to mean everything I say," Colbert responded obsequiously.
O'Reilly chuckled. "I know what we're in for here."
"I wish I knew what we were in for," Colbert — out of character for a moment — responded with a laugh.
They commiserated about the challenges of putting together a daily show.
"It's tough being us," O'Reilly said.
The article also addressed O’Reilly’s reasons for doing this:
"There are a lot of people in the country who hate me and hate Fox News," he said matter-of-factly. "They don't watch us and they buy the propaganda. In the sense I could reach an audience that may have not seen us, that is certainly worth it."
Dave Tabacoff, executive producer of "The O'Reilly Factor," said the cable news host's willingness to take part in Colbert's parody helped humanize him.
"I just think it shows, for people not familiar with the show, that Bill has a sense of humor, that he can make fun of himself," Tabacoff said. "There was a perception of stridency of him that was refuted."
For his part, O'Reilly said he is indifferent to his public image: "People think I'm humorless, that's fine. I don't care."
Nevertheless, he got largely positive reviews from such unlikely sources as the Huffington Post for his good-natured handling of Colbert's quips, including the comedian's display of his book "Culture Warrior," plastered with a big sticker reading "30% off" that obscured most of O'Reilly's face.
"I'm a professional; I know what he does," said the Fox News host, who said he watches the Comedy Central show. "He and his writers try to get people on there and get them off their game, whatever that may be, and see how they react. They're essentially wiseguys. So when you know that, you go in and see what they're going to do, then you counterpunch. But if you think you're going to beat him and make him look foolish, that's impossible.
"He's a very talented guy," O'Reilly added. "As long as it's not mean-spirited, it's fine."
In the end, it's seems quite likely that these meetings will benefit both of these interesting and oftentimes controversial characters.