On March 28, after Laura Ingraham tweeted that David Hogg, an 18-year- old survivor of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, had been rejected by colleges, dozens of corporate advertisers — including Hulu, Honda and Expedia — abandoned her Fox News show. Despite Ingraham’s March 29 tweeted apology to Hogg, which he spurned, many advertisers have not yet come back to the program.
During the first week of May, The Ingraham Angle averaged 12 ads per night, down from the 35 aired in the three days preceding the boycott, according to data provided by Kantar Media to The Hollywood Reporter. And the show averaged just more than seven minutes of nightly advertising for the same week, down about 50 percent, the analytics firm found. (A source close to the show put the number higher, between nine and 10 minutes on an average night.)
Ingraham Angle, however, has maintained its strength in the ratings, drawing an average 2.7 million total viewers for the week of May 7, and also rebounded somewhat in the same week, averaging 21 ads per night. Fox News says it isn’t worried about the drop in sponsors, with a spokesperson noting, “Advertisers are returning, and we expect things to return to normal.”
Ingraham’s show has skewed toward direct marketers, with pillow retailer MyPillow remaining the top advertiser (the company is led by a strong Trump supporter).
Yet Angelo Carusone, president of the left-leaning Media Matters for America, says that advertising buyers who added Ingraham’s show to their clients’ “Do Not Run” lists in the wake of the high-profile boycott effort will be reluctant to change course. “No one’s going to put themselves on the line to advocate for going back on the program,” he says. (A Fox News spokesperson says that Carusone “has no understanding of our clients’ marketing process.”)
At the very least, it will be an uphill battle for Fox News. “In the past several telecasts, Fox News has increased the paid commercial load in Ingraham’s show by 3-5 minutes per hour,” notes Kantar chief research officer Jon Swallen. But, he adds, “The advertisers who declared a boycott have held firm in their avoidance of the program.”
Fox News has strongly supported Ingraham throughout the boycott effort, with co-president Jack Abernethy putting out a statement on April 2 pledging that she would return to her show following a pre-planned vacation, the timing of which raised some eyebrows.
11:03 a.m. PT: This story was updated to include a statement from Fox News in response to a comment from Angelo Carusone of Media Matters regarding the network’s ad sales.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.