Fox News Offers Upfront Buyers Lifestyle, Weather, Late Night, CTV Options
Channel looking forward to presidential debates, primaries and election
Fox News Media is telling advertisers they don’t have to run commercials in news coverage to take advantage of the big Fox News Channel audience in an election year.
At its upfront presentation for advertisers Tuesday, Fox News will be outlining packages that only include lifestyle and weather programming, late-night programming and connected TV programming, Jeff Collins, executive VP at Fox News Media, told Broadcasting+Cable.
Recent headlines from the $1.6 billion defamation suit that Dominion Voting Systems levied against Fox News indicated that network executives, producers and on-air personalities knew what the channel was reporting about election fraud was baloney.
Despite polls suggesting the revelations have turned off some viewers, Collins said it hasn’t affected ad revenue.
“In fact, we’ve seen no impact,“ Collins said. “We have not had one advertiser cancel or pause or reduce their schedule with us.”
As one media buyer said: “Most of our clients decided some time ago whether they were comfortable airing on Fox News, and any news properties, or not. That is mostly unchanged.”
An analysis by iSpot.tv found that in January and February, Fox News had 649 advertisers, little changed from the 642 advertisers it had in January and February of 2022. The biggest advertisers on Fox News were Balance of Nature, My Pillow and Nutrisystem.
Viewing Up Despite Cord-Cutting
At a time when cord-cutting is ravishing cable networks, Fox News viewership is up 11%, one of just two cable networks to grow in 2022.
“We continue to see a lot of strength in linear,” Collins said. “We may be defying gravity right now.”
Collins said that while most of the industry is cutting back, Fox News is leaning in, investing in new programming. Since its last presentation, before the pandemic, ”we have a lot of new content that we’ve launched over the last several years. So we want to get that out front of advertisers.”
In particular, Collins says Fox News is investing in covering stories from the whole country.
“Many other networks are flying over states,“ he said. ”We’re flying into them and telling those stories and that's a really important point of distinction for us.”
Some of that programming is in nontraditional categories for a news network, and Fox News will give advertisers packages of only non-news programming if that’s what they want.
Fox Business Network’s primetime programming now features lifestyle shows like American Dream Home, Mansion Global and How America Works.
That programming has been very popular with clients because of opportunities for contextually relevant placement. For example, bedding marketer Boll & Branch sponsored segments in Mansion Global in which their sheets were featured in the bedrooms.
Lifestyle programming from the Fox Nation streaming service has also been popping up Sundays on Fox News Channel, giving an advertiser like Camping World the opportunity to sponsor Yellowstone 150, with Kevin Costner.
Fox’s late-night show, Gutfeld, has also started to attract Colbert, Kimmel and Fallon advertisers. “We’re working with clients that want to run Gutfeld-only plans,” Collins said. In terms of pricing, “I wouldn't say we're quite up to where a broadcast level would be. I would say it's a work in progress.”
Meanwhile, Fox Weather has increased distribution and leads a group of digital and streaming properties available to advertisers.
To be sure, the upfront will feature many familiar Fox News anchors and correspondents.
But most crucially the big story coming up is the election and Fox News expects to generate big numbers with debates, primaries and ultimately Election Day.
“It’s coming and it’s coming quickly,“ Collins said. ”The first Republican debate is going to be this summer. It’s coming actually before the upfront.”
Four years ago, the first Republican debate in August drew 24 million viewers.
“We expect and anticipate, given the competitive field, that there’s going to be as much interest,” Collins said. “We’re also excited to be able to talk about the fact that we’re reaching a more politically diverse audience than any other network out there, with more Democrats and independents watching Fox News than the cable news competition.”
Collins said he is planning to bring in four major sponsors for election coverage across the Fox News portfolio. Some of those conversations are already going on and might result in deals before there is movement in the overall upfront market.
Fox News will hold aside some election inventory for movie studios, streaming services and other advertisers launching new products that want to reach the large audiences it expects to attract.
Collins said Fox is willing to work with advertisers in the currencies they want to use, but at this point most alternative currencies are being used on a supplemental basis. “People still want to see their Nielsen currency and transact on that. That, by and large, is what we’re seeing, but they want secondary looks and secondary reads to be able to go a level deeper.”
Fox News offers research on business outcomes and return on investment. “We are in my mind, the most efficient and effective medium out there for an advertiser’s messaging,“ Collins said. “In any sort of ROI study, we perform very well.”
While the end of last year and the beginning of the first quarter were rough, Collins said that over the last several weeks and months business has been picking up.
“I wouldn't attribute that to anything that’s been written about us,” he said. ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
By Kent Gibbons