Fox News Sharpens Lifestyle TV Pitch for Madison Avenue
Fox News Media, known best for shows led by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, is placing new emphasis on programming that relies more heavily on Kevin Costner, weather emergencies and Greg Gutfeld.
In a meeting with advertisers slated to be held Tuesday, executives at the Fox Corp.-backed operation, will spotlight a growing array of lifestyle content, while continuing to nod to the political programming that draws some of its networks’ biggest audiences. Among the Fox News Media executives scheduled to be on hand were Suzanne Scott, the CEO, and Jay Wallace, president and executive editor.
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“If you take a look at our overall audience across all of Fox News Media, 40% comes from lifestyle – sports, weather, entertainment offerings,” says Jeff Collins, executive vice president of advertsing sales for Fox News Media. “We just want to reiterate to our clients the depth and breadth of this type of content that we have outside of just hard news.”
Fox makes its pitch to Madison Avenue as part of the “upfront,” the annual sales session during which big U.S. media companies try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory ahead of their next programming cycles. This year, Fox is under some scrutiny, thanks to a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit slated to go to trial in April that has called into question the credibility of some Fox News personalities and executives. The suit has been levied by Dominion Voting Systems, a voting technology company, which alleges it it owed damages after Fox News aired false claims about the company’s actions and influence on the 2020 election.
“We have not had one client cancel, pause or even reduce spending” because of publicity around the lawsuit, says Collins.
Fox has tested these waters in previous years, telling advertisers in 2021 about programs like the 11 p.m. show “Gutfeld” and describing how new personalities like Pete Doocy and Kayleigh McEnany can help attract “next-gen viewers.” Fox News alone was projected last year to take in approximately nearly $1.17 billion in ad revenue for 2022 and nearly $1.82 billion in distribution fees, according to Kagan, a market-research firm that is part of S&P Global Intelligence.
While Fox News continues generate big audiences via its opinion shows, Collins says the outlet will offer new ad packages around lifestyle content for the first time. “We do have enough scale to create lifestyle-only plans and bundles for advertisers that don’t historically buy in news,” he says. Sponsors might buy a package that includes primetime documentary series on Fox Business Network as well as inventory on Fox Weather, the company’s broadband weather-news outlet. Fox News Media will also offer specific programming blocks that might include cooking segments on “Fox & Friends” or “late-night only” alignment in “Gutfeld.” Fox continues to devise sponsorships around some originals developed for its Fox Nation streaming service ,such as a documentary on Yellowstone National Park narrated by Kevin Costner, that sometimes appear on weekend evenings on Fox News Channel.
“Overall, Fox News Media remains committed to constantly expanding and improving our offerings, to meet the ever-increasing demand by viewers who consume news and culture in a fast-paced sophisticated way and crave lifestyle programming as well,” said Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, during Tuesday’s meeting with media buyers.
The company hopes to portray itself as willing to spend in original content at a time when some rivals are scaling back on their offerings to address concerns about corporate profitability in the middle of the industry’s streaming wars. “We continue to invest in our products,” says Collins.
But the company still has news to sell. Fox News’ telecasts of Republican primaries and debates are typically big generators of audience. Anchors Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream were slated to be on hand at the Fox News event Tuesday to discuss some of the events expected across the next year.
The Fox unit also was expected to spend time highlighting new programs and some of its up and coming talent. Lawrence Jones, Bill Melugin and Jackie DeAngelis were scheduled to talk about news topics relevant to multiple generations. The presentation was expected to close with a segment devoted to “The Five,” the late-afternoon program that has become the most-watched on Fox News Channel.
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