A Lighter Ad Load Is The New Normal for Tucker Carlson's Fox News Show

Tucker Carlson at Politicon - Getty - H 2018
Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty

'Tucker Carlson Tonight' has averaged about 28 ads per night since his comments about immigration, including a larger number of "house" promotions.

Tucker Carlson Tonight has settled into a new advertising pattern since the eponymous show's host made comments about immigration that led more than 24 corporations to pull future spots.

The show, which regularly boasted upward of 40 corporate advertisements per night prior to his Dec. 13 monologue, recently hit a low of 21 ads on his Wednesday night show. 

Overall, Carlson's show averaged more than 35 advertisements in the nine episodes running through Dec. 13, but dropped to about 28 ads per night in the nine episodes since he said that immigration makes the United States "poorer and dirtier and more divided," according to a Hollywood Reporter review.

Most noticeably, the show has generally pared back from five standard advertisement breaks to four, and has leaned far more heavily on so-called house ads that promote Fox News programming and Fox Broadcasting Company scripted television shows. Carlson's show now regularly includes as many as seven such "house" ads, which help fill lost spots, along with public service announcements.

According to a Fox News spokesperson, the channel "usually has lighter ad during the holiday period between Christmas and the first few weeks of the New Year. Ad loads pick up toward the end of the month."

The caliber of Carlson's corporate advertiser base has also declined after companies like Samsung, Pfizer and IHOP pulled out, leaving brands like John Deere, Bayer (maker of Alka-Seltzer Plus), Jenny Craig, Kraft Foods and The NFL Network as the show's remaining major sponsoring brands. (On Friday afternoon, Farmers Insurance changed course and announced that it has "halted" advertising on Carlson's show.)

MyPillow, run by the politically conservative Mike Lindell, has continued advertising on Carlson's show, including four spots since Carlson's Dec. 13 remarks. One lengthy advertisement aired Dec. 21 and followed a highly complementary on-camera interview that the CEO told THR was taped several weeks ago.

"I don’t pay attention to what other advertisers are doing," Lindell said in an email. "I make advertising decisions that are best for MyPillow, and I don’t believe in boycotts. Advertising boycotts drive up advertising prices on other shows. Higher prices are often passed on to consumers. Bottom line, advertising boycotts are bad for consumers.” (MyPillow also continued advertising on Laura Ingraham's show after the host faced criticism for mocking Florida high school shooting survivor David Hogg.)

Several major brands have seemingly pulled ads from Carlson's show but have declined opportunities to comment publicly about the decision, opting to stay out of the social media limelight. These decisions are driven by a corporate marketing calculation that is specific to each company, sources said.

Jeremy Robinson-Leon, president of public relations agency Group Gordon, said that corporations conduct a risk-benefit analysis that drives decisions about advertising against political television. "Is the value of reaching a particular customer segment worth the risk of potentially antagonizing a different segment? For brands with large, diverse customer bases, the risk can be quite high," he said.

Carlson did not respond to an emailed request for comment. His employer, Fox News, has blamed the advertiser boycott on "left-wing advocacy groups" like Media Matters for America and MoveOn.org.