Fox Networks Group Flat in Primetime Upfront Haul

Empire Still Taraji P. Henson - Photo-Illustration - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of FOX

New Fox programs 'The Gifted' and 'The Mick' were of particular interest to media buyers, while 'Empire' and 'Star' continue to be a draw.

Fox was flat in this year’s upfront ad haul, when the networks book advanced commitments for their upcoming primetime slates. Last year, Fox, which was selling ads against a new season that would not include one-time juggernaut American Idol, booked CPM gains (the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers) in the high single-digits to low double-digits after a dismal selling season the year prior.

This time around, the Fox suite of channels — which includes, FX, FXX, Nat Geo and its spinoffs and Fox Sports — saw pricing increases of 6 to 8 percent, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Volume was steady with last year.

New Fox programs The Gifted and The Mick were of particular interest to media buyers, while Empire and Star continue to be a draw.

Fox, like many networks, has made highly targeted digital advertising a priority. And this season, digital ad sales jumped more than 40 percent, with upfront commitment for digital ads on FX doubling year-over-year. 

Fox put outsize emphasis on its sports portfolio at its presentation in May. Sales for the 2018 World Cup are pacing ahead of schedule, while the network’s Big Ten college football package has seen “significant gains” this year, according to a person familiar with the sales strategy. Meanwhile, Nielsen’s new out-of-home metric continues to have an impact of sports programing, with more than 30 percent of the NFL market now adopting the new technology that measures viewers at bars, gyms and hotel rooms. 

The network is said to be “pleased” with its upfront results this year, especially as advertisers are putting less of their budgets into network primetime and holding back more for the scatter market.