Fox News Selling Ads in New Streaming Weather Channel in Upfront

Fox News Media Upfront
Fox News Media ad sales head Jeff Collins with 'Fox & Friends' hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt during Fox News Media's upfront presentation

A little less politics might be good for Fox News Media, which might prefer to talk about the weather with media buyers during the upfront.

In the midst of a record revenue fiscal year fueled by an election cycle that elevated ratings, Fox News is launching a streaming weather channel and will start to sell ads on its subscription streaming service Fox Nation, where lifestyle programming might be appropriate for some advertisers.

Jeff Collins executive VP, advertising sales, at Fox News Media, is looking to increase revenue again in the upcoming fiscal year and he’s counting on a dramatically changed news environment, with less emphasis on politics, to attract otherwise skittish advertisers.

What’s different? “In the former administration, the news cycle was really dominated by politics. All news organizations were covering every tweet, every work that came out of the White House," he said.

At the same time, instead of negative stories about pandemics and demonstrations, “we’re just seeing a lot more optimism,” said Collins. “People are getting vaccinated. We’re doing these amazing stories of families being reunited, the economy getting back up and running and kids going back to school.”

More coverage of lifestyle, sports and business could be good for business: “That's a much better environment for a lot of our advertisers who want to be around something that might be more contextually relevant than just politics all the time.” 

Fox News Media is launching Fox Weather over the summer.

“That gives us a whole new area to play in for advertisers,” Collins said. “It’s weather content, so you could do more more things like brand integration across the network and there’s tons of ways to be contextually relevant.”

Collins expects to be able to sell the usual weather-related tie-in, such as ads for cough and cold remedies when it’s rainy and allergy relief medications when the pollen count is high, not to mention ads for snow tires when blizzards hit.

Since Fox Weather will be a streaming service, it will be better able to do data-driven targeting, dynamic ad insertion and addressable advertising than linear channels.

“It’s our belief that weather should be local and that opens up a lot of possibilities from an advertiser’s perspective, simply targeting certain [geographic areas] based on advertiser's target audience,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of demand for that.”

Fox News just started selling Fox Weather, so those sponsorships aren’t locked down yet.

Fox News was going to start selling advertising in Fox Nation last year, but pulled back because the pandemic disrupted the production of some original shows.

With Fox Nation, the rules are more liberal, allowing show sponsorships and product integrations, particularly within lifestyle shows like Park’d

Collins said news remains an incredibly efficient vehicle to reach an engaged audience,” and that advertisers that have sat out of news are coming back in. Among them are the advertisers in the categories hardest hit by the pandemic, such as the travel industry.

Other sources of additional spending including direct-to-consumer brands focused on return on investment, and home-related brands. Collins noted that a commercial real estate company did a million-dollar deal with Fox Business.

Fox News’ primetime shows have been hit with advertiser boycotts in the past and more and more companies have been taking stands on issues like voting rights and social justice. But the so-called woke CEOs that Republicans rail against haven’t stopped their companies from advertising on Fox News.

“We are seeing advertisers that have sat out news coming back in,” now that the election is over and the economy is making a comeback, Collins said.

During this time of year, upfronts are about new programming and typically news networks don’t have have new shows to talk about. “This year we have a whole new daytime lineup and we have the launch of Gutfield!,” the late night show that beats the shows on broadcast some nights

Most years, Fox News and its competitors, hold upfront events where anchors and reporters talk about the news of the day in person for media buyers and clients. With upfronts being held over Zoom, that would look too much like what ad buyers can already watch on their laptop, so Tuesday's Fox News event featured execs, talent and producers talking mostly about what happens behind the scenes a the network.

On Fox Corp.’s fiscal third-quarter earnings call last week, CEO Lachlan Murdoch reminded investors that the company predicted that Fox News ratings would be lower post-election, but would bounce back.

“We were saying the same thing to our advertisers,” Collins said. 

And at a time when ratings are eroding, resulting in under delivery and make-good ads, Fox News’s numbers have been among the largest.

“We deliver every deal in full within flight, within the programming that was purchased. And that seems to be increasingly rare these days,” he said 

Jon Lafayette

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.