With Bill O’Reilly on Vacation, Advertisers Still Avoid Fox News’ ‘Factor’

Bill O'Reilly Scandal
REUTERS/Newscom

Bill O’Reilly’s break from appearing on Fox News’ primetime schedule doesn’t seem to be enough to get advertisers to return.

Fox News Channel has broadcast two episodes of its highly rated “The O’Reilly Factor” with a substitute host at the helm, but much of Madison Avenue is still avoiding the program, as it has since early last week. On Tuesday,  O’Reilly said he would take a planned vacation, even as a controversy swirled related to the disclosure that he has paid $13 million in settlements to five women who accused him of sexual harassment and other in appropriate behavior.

His absence has not made advertisers hearts grow fonder. Even with Dana Perino hosting “Factor” on Wednesday and Eric Bolling leading the program on Thursday, the show has featured approximately 10 national commercials each night. In the month prior to the disclosure of the settlements, O’Reilly’s program carried an average of 33 national ads totaling more than 14 minutes, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending.

O’Reilly is scheduled to return to his anchor seat, his “Talking Points Memo” segment and his regular interviews with contributors like Jesse Watters and Charles Krauthammer April 24.

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Meantime, Fox News Channel and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, await the results of an internal investigation into allegations made against him. In an earlier statement, O’Reilly said said he entered into settlements to protect his children, and suggested his fame made him a target.

Most advertisers have moved their commercials away from the program, but continue to keep their money with Fox News Channel, the network said in a statement earlier this month. A Fox News spokesperson declined to elaborate beyond that statement.

One media buyer suggested sponsors may find it hard to ditch O’Reilly’s “Factor” permanently. Simply put, the program is typically the most-watched on cable news, luring between 3 million and 4 million people each night. At a time when TV audiences are eroding because of the lure of mobile devices and streaming video, that chunk of viewership is difficult to dismiss, this buyer noted.

In his last, pre-vacation days, O’Reilly continued to win more viewers than others. Between April 3 and April 11, his show attracted an average of 647,000 viewers between 25 and 54, the demographic coveted most by advertisers in news programming – 11% more than the year-earlier period, according to Nielsen. The show lured an average of more than 3.69 million viewers overall. Some of the viewership no doubt tuned in to see if the anchor would say anything about the controversy surrounding him. O’Reilly has not addressed the issue on the air.

In contrast, Perino’s Wednesday-night broadcast won an average of 521,000 viewers between 25 and 54, and more than 2.8 million viewers overall.

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Some of the Madison Avenue scatter from O’Reilly’s show may be more for show than for real. The advertisers appear to be using a tactic that is common when Madison Avenue wishes to avoid negative publicity associated with a particular program, but in fact likes the results derived from advertising on the network that shows it. Marketers’ decision to keep money at Fox News suggests some of them may be waiting to see if a return is possible.

Even so, those defections ought to be taken seriously. In mid-2015, marketers including General Mills, Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut, PepsiCo’s Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Choice Hotels and Crayola LLC all publicly stated they had removed their commercials from “19 Kids and Counting,” a TLC reality show that spotlighted the Duggar family, in light of news that the oldest boy in the family had sexually assaulted teenage girls. But none of the sponsors pulled their ad dollars previously earmarked for TLC or other properties owned by its parent, Discovery Communications. The show was eventually canceled.

Fox News may have a cushion. The biggest sponsors of “Factor” are direct-response marketers like Rosland Capital and MyPillow.com -and they have continued to support the show. Direct-response marketers typically pay less to run commercials in exchange for letting the network place their ads across a broad section of the schedule – and are typically less concerned about content than mainstream advertisers.  In recent nights, “Factor” ad support has been provided largely by these kinds of sponsors, including spots from PCMatic, RockAuto.com and Fast Life. On Thursday night, Great America Alliance, an advocacy group that supports President Trump’s political agenda, ran a commercial.

Another party has used “O’Reilly Factor” for humorous purposes. On Wednesday night, viewers of the program on Cablevision might have noticed an off-kilter pitch. In the spot, a cowboy speaks up against “repeated unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks in the workplace.” The ad ran during time allocated to local cable systems, and was actually a prank commercial devised by the staff at John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.”

A network can keep any series on the air it chooses – if it has the willpower. In 2008, a handful of sponsors pulled out of “Swingtown,” a CBS drama that examined spouse-swapping in the 1970s, among its other elements. The network filled its advertising holes with direct-response ads for Time-Life 1970s music compilations, and soldiered on. Until O’Reilly’s fate is more clear, Fox News, for now, seems likely to do the same.

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  1. Marel Ryan says:

    Not happy with the NY Times

  2. Joan lee says:

    Anything to destroy any and all things conservative leaning. I too,would like to know which companies have pulled ads. Mostly sll the ads are drug companies,so if those are gone it’s a beautiful thing.

    • Mary Goodner says:

      I have watched Bill O’Reilly for years and there is no one that can take his place. I heard today it will be Tucker Carlson. I don’t even like his present show. You are making a huge mistake. Bill O’Reilly is single and if all of these allegations about women are true, which I don’t believe they are, these women can take care of themselves. Bill O’Reilly made this network from his show. You will be sorry and where will I go now for a wonderful news show? PUT HIM BACK ON. GET HIM TO COME BACK. What a blah comment Dana Perino made tonight about Bill’s departure from Fox.

  3. Susan Dudak says:

    I would like a list of those advertisers so that I can avoid doing any business with them in the future. I like Bill O’Reilly and until there is a court case and he is convicted of anything, leave him alone to do his job. He makes Fox a great place to watch the news.

  4. Toni says:

    The problem isn’t oreilly the problem is the crap on the Internet disrepecting women.
    add to that all the savagery on live streaming and fake news and hate speech perpetuated by twitter and It’s only a matter of time before the internet, like any other business will be regulated.

  5. USA USA USA says:

    All these whiney BOR apologists (acting just as biased and sanctimonious as a snowflake) are so offended that their (false) idol isn’t exempt from the rules like their ilk usually are. Laws? Pffft, those are supposed to apply to ethnic people!

    Yeah, people who are innocent with nothing to hide are always so quick to fork over millions.

  6. Bob Crumley says:

    Wounded warriors, and other charities supported by Mr. O’reilly will surely suffer if the lady whiners get their way. Look at all of the good this man has done and if it were not for him, I think our great country would be in a much deeper mess than it is now. He and FNC have kept millions of people from becoming liberals who hate all things conservative and finally turned things around to the advantage or our country. Keep up the good work!

    • USA USA USA says:

      So all you have to do is whine to get millions from BOR? Wow, he doesn’t sound like someone to admire or respect. He sounds like someone to be pitied. I didn’t realize he was such a vulnerable target. He couldn’t even, with all his bluster and power and truth, handle some “lady whiners?” He was so right that the ONLY option, his ONLY DEFENSE was to pay millions in hush money? . And this powerless wuss is some bastion of strength for you?

  7. Terry says:

    Some Women play men for fools.

    • USA USA USA says:

      Fools make it easy. If he did it, he’s a pervert. If he didn’t, he’s an easily taken rube. Either way, I’m glad I’m not one who needs to be led by a sexual deviant or gullible sucker.

  8. Pete Dosado says:

    O’Reilly for all his faults give even and balanced reporting and opinions unlike many in the MSM! Hint to all detractors: You do not have to listen to him; you can switch channels or turn off your boob tube!

    • John48493 says:

      But he keeps preying sexually on his female colleagues. He’s a danger to the women around him. Until he’s fired, Fox News will not be an equal opportunity employer. One sadistic sexual predator isn’t worth that.

  9. clee14 says:

    Once OReilly is gone the left will find someone else that treatens them to go after. Who’s next? They have Allred at the ready to sue some man with some fake women in her stable of losers to use.

  10. clee14 says:

    I’d love a list of these advertisers so I can not use their products or shop their business. I haven’t been in Target since they decided to back a bathroom for all

  11. Dan OBrien says:

    Though I think O’Reilly is a Egotist I plan to stick with the fellow and stick with Fox News. I need balance in my news and life.

    I plan not to buy from Target and I’ll never have enough money to buy a Beamer.

  12. John48493 says:

    O’Reilly’s a wife beating sociopathic sexual predator. I hope he’s off the air for good.

  13. Joseph Jonesy says:

    I hope we measure the whole life of a person and not a snip it of one’s life. O’Reilly is a known quantity if anyone is. Real evidence of missteps would have surfaced long before this. I think he’s falsely accused and I plan to stick with him.

    • John48493 says:

      These settlements go back more than a decade. So yah, evidence of missteps did surface long before this. And these are just the Fox News settlements. He probably has settlements at his past employers.

      And let’s not forget that O’Reilly beat his wife.

  14. Joseph Jonesy says:

    O’Reilly’s principal accuser is Wendy Walsh. A Democrat psychologist who has spent the entirety of hating men and attacking men everywhere of pc nonsense forever complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace. Just look up her bio. You could see this coming. O’Reilly’s only error is allowing this crackpot airtime on his show. Fake, fake, fake! Sometimes you must consider the history of the accuser. This is such the case. Go ahead, look her up.

    • John48493 says:

      What about the five prior sexual harassment settlements O’Reilly has at Fox News? And no one has even checked whether or not he’s settled sexual harassment complaints at his prior employers.

  15. Joseph Jonesy says:

    Murdoch’s should stick with O’Reilly. His viewers are loyal and can see what’s going on with the left. I predict his ratings will continue to soar and plenty of advertisers will want some of the action.

    With true rapists like Clinton, perverts like Weiner and liers like Susan Rice and Hillary, it’s hard to get very excited about O’Reilly accusations.

  16. Oybama says:

    Are advertisers saying that they reject consumers who watch O’Reilly? Or are they saying that corporate political views are more important than profits?

  17. Joseph Jonesy says:

    It’s all about money and the leftist MSM attack on FOX. O’Reilly is just the latest target of the left and money pockets for the aggrieved posers.

  18. Olden Atwoody says:

    O’Reilly winked and smiled at me through the TV screen, and I still can’t sleep. I wasn’t $100,000 in small, used bills.

    I feel so used.

    • John48493 says:

      If you really think it’s that easy please pursue your claim. You’re obviously suggesting that these claims are soooo easy to bring and lucrative that people will bring them over nothing. I’d love to see O’Reilly’s lawyers kick you around and disabuse you of that notion. Ultimately you’ll most likely end up owing O’Reilly money.

  19. Sybil says:

    The sponsors will be the losers

  20. Sybil says:

    If O’Reilly goes, so do I. Being female & having worked with many professional men, I was constantly hit upon. No rape, no aggression, no force – just harmless words. Today, liberal females will go after a public figure if they say, “Good morning, you sure look great today”. Different world. Leave him alone!!

    • John48493 says:

      What if you had been fired for refusing to have sex with someone? Would that have been okay? What if your boss called you while masturbating?

  21. Fox had better keep O’Reilly. My sister was hit with “sexual harassment” at work because she asked a
    few other employees to join her for drinks. She was stunned! Male party never said word to her about
    not wanting to be included in drinks invitation, he just filed complaint.

  22. Roe Bauer says:

    So Ole Bill is now the Hit Piece…..!!!

    The Establishment is going after anyone who who speaks against them and their Agenda.

    They might start another Revolution and that would guarantee People would come after them!

  23. Adam says:

    If they pull Bill O’Reilly from FoxNews, I will only watch Hannity and switch the channel! F U FoxNews! Spineless, Gutless, POS!

  24. Adam says:

    This is very dangerous. They don’t like Bill O’Reilly’s right-wing views and they hold him and Hannity responsible. This complaint was from 4 years ago! She waited all this time until now to say something and move forward with a complaint. Think about it. She was paid to issue the complaint on Bill O’Reilly and watch something come up on Hannity as well. This is very fishy to wait 4 years to say something. What if a charge was brought on you for something that allegedly happened 4 years ago. It just isn’t right.

  25. TouParish says:

    You and I both.. I avoid Target like it was handing out black plague!

    • Jim Mc says:

      CANCELLED MY ACCOUNT WITH TARGET AND NO MORE BUSINESS BY ME WITH ANY OF ADVERTISERS THAT LEFT FOX AND OREILLY

  26. TouParish says:

    Bill is single. Like all rich people, if you flurt you get sued. Everyone knows that. No actual charges ever filed, no specific claims ever made.

    I watch Bill every nite and have pretty much the last 20 years. And I will continue.

    #maga

  27. These advertisers are really foolish Oreilly has the most watched cable news show on the air.Be a” social justice snowflake” at your own risk

  28. Hank Wershaw says:

    Most of those outraged do not watch his show. President Clinton stayed in the White House and he was accused of actual physical rape.

  29. Claire Alexander says:

    I will sum it up for you, two hundred million dollars in ad revenue. Money talks and BS walks, it is always about the money. Is Fox willing to take the hit? I doubt it, that’s a lot of money being pulled in on a consistent basis by one of it’s most popular shows. It would be greatly appreciated if Variety would post a list of those advertisers no longer willing to air their commercials during the O’Reilly show. All of us who would like to boycott their products would be very grateful.

  30. Sam says:

    I will obtain the names of the advertisers that stopped supporting O Reilly and boycott them.

  31. Sean Raleigh says:

    I knew the name Wendy Davis rang a bell. If Fox allow this baglady to dethrone O Reilly they might as well close shop. Who will be next. This concerted effort by the extreme left Soros gang to shut up conservative voices should be fought at all costs.

  32. Ron Cole says:

    Since I have never suffered the ()`really Comedy and Cleavage 31 minutes I will defer judgement to those who have.

  33. Jinxi Richow says:

    There is no punishment to inflict on that ‘little white liar’, ‘fabricator of fake white history’ and bigoted pervert O’Reilly that would be as destructive and corrosive as the fallout from his mere existence.

    The man is a scumbag. He is an outright inveterate liar. He is a sexual deviant. He deserves a comeuppance more than any other right wing liar on Earth … even the Russian lapdog Comrade Trumpski!

  34. wes says:

    i am telling family and friends not to buy products from those liberal sponsors, there are more than those few. vote with your money and even get healthier in the process.

  35. Bad Man says:

    Don’t expect O’Reilly’s ratings to suffer when he returns from vacation. All you lefty loons can cry all you want!

  36. I wonder the real reason behind the advertisers attitude! I would like to have the list so I can avoid them.

  37. O’Reilly’s rating are too high for advertisers to stay away. The existing ones will be back, and/or new advertisers will be given all kinds of incentives to become part of the O’Reilly / Fox family.

  38. milesll says:

    I have been driving Mercedes for over 30 years -S class, not toys, and it stopped NOW. Why MB would stop advertising to people who buy their cars and listen to loons who will never buy their cars is strange to say the least. Who are these idiots? You know if the story only ran in the NYT it must be true. Americans are more than tired of these morons who only have an agenda not facts.

  39. Ed Livesay says:

    Well… the allegations absolutely MUST be true! Women made the allegations… hence they are irrefutable. Dime to a doughnut that, investigation would find the women to be liberal/feminist activists or have been represented by the likes of Gloria Allred (and, wow, that really makes the allegations true). All a group of liberals needs do is find several willing to make allegations… several, of course, means that a pattern exists… instant money and instant ability to remove a conservative.. all without names, facts, etc. (And don’t tell me that the ploy has not been done before).

  40. Jane says:

    The entire amounts of money given to these women and especially Gretchen carlson should be returned to fox as
    the intent was to not discuss the matter which of course has been violated and ignored, Also terms they were not allowed to work in the media, or talk, discuss, or make appearances. For at least 2-3 yrs.

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