- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
On Tuesday morning, Fox News will gather dozens of its top advertisers in the studio that normally houses Greg Gutfeld’s 11 p.m. show.
Amid a tumultuous news environment (between a potential indictment of Donald Trump, concerns over bank failures, and a variety of headlines about Fox News itself tied to the defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems), the conservative cable news channel will host its upfront presentation, pitching advertisers on why they should be spending their hard-earned dollars with Fox.
While Fox News is a dominant player in cable TV (it was the most-watched cable channel in total viewers last year, beating ESPN by nearly half a million viewers), cable news, with its older audience and occasionally polarizing programming, has not historically been a priority for major brand advertisers (and that’s before considering recent headlines).
And TV advertising itself is having a difficult moment, with sales at most major networks down from last year. But life sports has been largely immune from those declines, and Fox News is betting that it can deliver growth as well.
So this year, Fox is leaning into its other fare in its upfront pitch, highlighting lifestyle, weather, and entertainment programming, as well as election coverage, which could draw viewership numbers that rival only the NFL.
“With all the additions the last several years into lifestyle content, almost 40 percent of our audience reached now across Fox News Media comes from our lifestyle, sports, entertainment and weather offerings,” Fox News executive VP of ad sales Jeff Collins tells The Hollywood Reporter.
And so Fox is betting that advertisers that may be skittish of advertising on, say Tucker Carlson, are ok with sponsoring Yellowstone One-Fifty, which is produced and hosted by Yellowstone star Kevin Costner. The Fox Nation docuseries will get a linear run on Fox News during an upcoming Sunday evening. Or perhaps on some of Fox Business Network’s lifestyle shows, or on the Fox Weather service.
“So for our existing news advertisers, it’s a nice way for them to come on with something that maybe more closely aligns with their creative messaging, and can expand their audience reach,” Collins says. “For non-news advertisers, it offers them an opportunity to buy into lifestyle content at scale, and reach an audience that they didn’t historically reach, because they weren’t historically in a news environment.”
He adds that the channel has seen existing advertisers buy into Fox’s other genres of programming, and that the channel has also seen new advertisers come into the fold.
“Overall, Fox News Media remains committed to constantly expanding and improving our offerings, to meet the ever-increasing demand by viewers who consume news and culture in a fast-paced sophisticated way and crave lifestyle programming as well,” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott told media buyers Tuesday.
Or, yes, on Gutfeld!, Fox News’ 11 p.m. show, which as the channel is fond of pointing out is safely beating The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! in the ratings in total and demo viewers, and has on occasion beat CBS’ Late Show as well.
“We’re talking to a lot of clients that are buying into late night now that maybe aren’t historically news advertisers and saying, listen, if you want to buy Gutfeld exclusively, come on in, and we’re happy to sell you a Gutfeld-only package as part of your overall upfront to help complement your existing late night schedules,” Collins says.
But it’s hard to ignore the Dominion elephant in the room. At the same time Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott is speaking with advertisers, the channel will be in a Delaware courtroom to make its case for a summary judgement (the timing is a coincidence).
The case could prove to be pivotal to the company’s future … although when asked about it, Collins said that despite the barrage of headlines over the last few months, the suit and the revelations that came out via the discovery process has not diminished advertiser interest.
“We we have not had any impact to our business,” Collins said. “We have not had one advertiser pause, cancel, or pullback on spending as a result of this. So it really has not had an impact at all.”
Perhaps part and parcel with that is the fact that Fox News is leaning into news and opinion programming that is perhaps more ad-friendly than many of the hosts named in the suit.
For example, at Tuesday’s upfront, anchors Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream will appear to tee up the channel’s 2024 election coverage (which could include a primary debate or two… the first GOP primary debate in 2015 drew an NFL-like 24 million viewers), while other anchors like Harris Faulkner, Jackie DeAngelis and Lawrence Jones will also make appearances.
Collins says his team is going to market this year with a five-quarter election package “just so that they can actually buy into next year’s election in fourth quarter, which would normally fall within the following broadcast year.” The packages would coincide with possible debates this summer, leading into primaries and then conventions next year.
“So we’re working with and talking to a number of advertisers about larger packages, but then we always reserve inventory for advertisers that might have special messaging in and around a particular date,” Collins adds. “[Advertisers] that want that massive audience reach of say, a debate that’s doing 20-plus million viewers, or a primary that we know is going to have massive viewership, and we see a lot of movie studios, or the launch of a new car, or a new particular product that will come in for those and buy those dates individually.”
“I think you’re seeing advertisers want to embrace and be around the events themselves,” he adds. “So primaries, conventions, the election itself, debates. There’s still demand behind those nights. And I think it just gets harder and harder for clients to buy scaled offerings these days, as you know.”
The upfront will end, however, with an opinion show. A show that has, perhaps surprisingly, become Fox News’ most-watched program: The Five. Gutfeld, Dana Perino, Jesse Watters, Jeanine Pirro, and Jessica Tarlov will all appear for a panel, discussion, highlighting how three of them (Watters, Perino and Gutfeld) now have their own programs as well.
Yes, it isn’t exactly balanced, but the presence of multiple points of view is perhaps a welcome change from some other programming.
“I think a show like The Five is very interesting, because you have essentially, five folks who have different backgrounds, different political orientations and leanings. And that has somehow become the number one show, in not only all of cable news, but all of cable,” Collins said. “I think, you know, advertisers are certainly embracing that. And the fact that you could have diverse voices on air that can still have a civil conversation, but also in a fun way, it has really become appointment viewing for so many consumers that and there’s just tremendous buzz around it.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day