Fox Business Skips Commercial Breaks to Cover Coronavirus (But Still Has a Sponsor)

Liz Claman’s recent ahead-of-the-curve coverage of the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the stock market has been brought to you by TD Ameritrade. But the online broker hasn’t interrupted her Fox Business Network program once in the past three days to make its marketing point.

The anchor’s “The Claman Countdown” has been running without commercial interruption, giving viewers more time to focus on a stunning plunge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. A TD Ameritrade logo runs on screen, part of a bid to make plain that the financial-services firm is partially responsible for the extra program time. TD Ameritrade has also helped to facilitate commercial-free  blocks between 9 a.m. and noon this week on the Fox Corp,-owned business-news outlet.

“When you go to a Marvel movie at the most crucial moment, you don’t expect to see a commercial and have the action stop,’ says Claman after wrapping a fourth day chronicling market declines for an increasingly nervous viewership. “On days like these, people are tuning in to us for the most important information.”

Fox Business has started a strategic partnership with TD Ameritrade that makes it the sponsor of breaking-news coverage, but places banner ads on screen rather than cutting into program time with a traditional TV spot.  The maneuver is just the latest to surface on TV as various networks look for ways to keep viewers from tuning away in an era when streaming-video options allow them to watch fewer ads – and, in some cases, none.

Live sports and news programs garner some of TV’s biggest audiences at a time when viewers are more prone to watch a scripted program via streaming video. But to keep viewers from feeling their show is being interrupted, some networks are testing new ad formats that don’t get in the way of the proceedings. ESPN has experimented with “double boxes,” or on-air displays that keep half the screen on game action and the other half on a commercial. CNN has made use of “squeezebacks,” or commercial breaks that run alongside the live broadcast from an important event, like a debate or town hall. The news networks have also scrambled to find new ways to bring advertisers on board, even when the news being covered is tough and unsettling.

For Claman, the TD Ameritrade support offers proof that there are still some moments in TV too important to be interrupted. She has made her “Countdown” into a hard a look at the last hour of market trading each day, even as some of the anchors on Fox Business weave more politics into their shows. “I’m not going to get into the culture wars at 3 in the afternoon. My viewers want business, and that’s what they are going to get,” Claman says, adding:  “I’m not talking about how Bernie is gong to cut down the whole country. That’s just not my interest.”

Claman has been calling attention to the potential dangers of the coronavirus since January. “I knew it would be an issue for stocks,” she says, and she has been working to get guests on the program who can explain to viewers the things they need to monitor. She even tracked down Ken Alibek, a former Soviet biological warfare expert whose work has sometimes been controversial, to discuss whether the coronavirus was going to escalate. His response: Yes. “I just wanted someone to tell us if this was going to get worse or better,” says Claman.

The lack of ad breaks creates a new challenge for the anchor, and others who might be on air during such moments. There are no moments where she can catch her breath. “I can’t stop and refocus,” she admits, but “it doesn’t matter. I have a whole team behind me. I don’t look at it as a problem.” She even has developed a hand signal she can make on screen that tells producers to cut her on-air audio so she can speak to the studio about next steps in the broadcast. “What’s next?” she will ask. “Can you get me a Nike chart?”

Claman has held down the same hour on Fox Business since joining the network in 2007 after a stint working at CNBC. She says she won’t mind if there are more commercial-free hours in her future. “It does enable us to make a few bucks and it enables us to be the one you don’t turn away from,” she says, noting “it’s exhausting but exhilarating.”

More TV

  • The Good Fight Season 4 christine

    TV News Roundup: CBS All Access 'The Good Fight' Season 4 Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV News Roundup, CBS All Access unveiled a trailer for Season 4 of “The Good Fight,” and Quibi released trailers for two more upcoming programs.  FIRST LOOKS CBS All Access has debuted the official trailer for Season 4 of “The Good Fight.” The series picks up with the law firm Reddick, Boseman & [...]

  • Chris Benoit Dark Side of the

    'Dark Side of the Ring' Season 2 Premiere Sets Vice Ratings Record

    The Season 2 premiere of “Dark Side of the Ring” not only brought in the show’s best ratings last week, but the best ratings ever for a Vice TV original telecast. According to Nielse data, “Dark Side of the Ring” brought in 1.2 million viewers across three telecasts on March 24. That is up 119% [...]

  • Westworld

    'Westworld' Star Evan Rachel Wood on the 'Digital War' at the Heart of Season 3

    Netflix, but everywhere, and evil: That’s the chilling idea at the center of the third season of “Westworld.” As star Evan Rachel Wood explained during a live interview on the “Variety After-Show” — streamed via Variety‘s Instagram account after the third episode of “Westworld” aired on HBO — her sentient robot character Dolores now knows what [...]

  • 'The Bachelor Summer Games' Shelved at

    'The Bachelor Summer Games' Shelved at ABC Due to Coronavirus

    ABC has made the decision to shelve its planned “The Bachelor Summer Games” spinoff, Variety has confirmed, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the entertainment industry. The prospective series, which had yet to be officially announced, was slated to air during the Olympics this summer, however, news of the show being scrapped for the [...]

  • V Wars Season 1

    'V-Wars,' 'October Faction' Canceled at Netflix After One Season Each

    Both “V-Wars” and “October Faction” have been canceled at Netflix after airing just one season apiece, Variety has confirmed. The two shows are both produced by IDW Entertainment, which is also behind the Netflix series adaptation of “Locke & Key.” News of the twin cancellations comes just after Netflix announced a season 2 pick up for [...]


    Fox, iHeart Execs Reveal Secrets Behind 'Living Room Concert' Performances (EXCLUSIVE)

    As recently as last Tuesday, just three artists had signed on to “Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.” But after a week of scrambling and all-night editing sessions, the producers and executives behind the special managed to put together a one-hour event on Sunday night that attracted at least 5.5 million viewers, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content