Streaming-video hub Fox Nation is opening its borders – to advertisers.
The Fox News subscription service will offer marketers the chance to embed their products in some of its programs, which have in the recent past included a crime series led by Nancy Grace, a documentary series hosted by former CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, and a cooking show built around “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy. Fox Nation will not run traditional TV ads, says Jeff Collins, executive vice president of ad sales at Fox News Media, but will work with potential sponsors so they are aware of Fox Nation programming “early in the development process” and can collaborate on ways to place products in specific shows.
“We would do product placement in programming where it is appropriate that would appear within Fox Nation, but we would also be able to turn it into a Sunday night on Fox News – special programming on a Sunday night on Fox News for ‘Fox Nation Presents,’” says Collins, in an interview after holding a
town hall” event for advertisers (picture, above).“We would not do product integration in a hard-news environment,” he adds. Bigger streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, have routinely struck deals that weave advertisers into programs while continuing to avoid running traditional video commercials.
The move speaks to the intense interest advertisers have in streaming environments, where viewers have grown accustomed to seeing fewer ads – and in many cases, none. When Fox Nation launched in the fall of 2018, executives initially wanted to examine subscriber behavior before considering whether to run commercials. Fox News’ idea would link the Fox Nation placements to appearances in traditional TV, a move that could potentially spark talks about larger packages of commercial inventory.
In the current moment, every media company is eager to find new ways to monetize streaming-video. Fox Corporation, Fox News’ parent, in March agreed to buy Tubi, an ad-supported streaming-video hub, for $440 million. NBCUniversal’s Peacock hub has lured L’Oreal, Capital One and Verizon as early sponsors. ViacomCBS last year acquired ad-supported streaming outlet Pluto for $340 million.
The Fox Nation offer shows Fox News working to emphasize newer areas of coverage to Madison Avenue. Since joining Fox News in May of last year, Collins has worked to broaden opportunities for advertisers. In December, Fox News struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that had the hosts of “Fox & Friends” drive Dodge vehicles in sponsored video segments.
On Friday, Fox News made outreach to media-buying outlets that laid out some recent areas of focus. Participants including Havas’ Havas Edge and Publicis Groupe’s Apex Exchange were able to watch a 50-minute streaming-video presentation that offered updates on the coronavirus pandemic from medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier as well as outlooks on politics and business from anchors Chris Wallace and Maria Bartiromo. Rather than call attention to some of Fox News’ popular opinion hosts, executives accentuated the company’s efforts to provide information on current events and changes brought on by the spread of the contagion.
Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott told participants Fox News Channel would air a town hall this week devoted to education and distance learning. Collins says events such as this created under a new Fox News content initiative called “America Together” that focus on inspirational stories and national discussions have drawn “four major sponsors” that he declined to name.
Fox News Media had planned to hold a traditional upfront showcase in March, but scuttled the meeting due to concerns around coronavirus. With the pandemic scattering advertiser plans, the company decided to hold a briefing that “helps you more effectively move forward with your plans,” Collins said during the streaming-video meeting, adding: “So when you are ready to engage or re-engage your customers, we stand ready to help.”
Fox News is walking the same tightrope as other media outlets when it comes to approaching advertisers. Many TV sponsors have been forced by the pandemic to cut back on advertising, while others are spending more due to new consumer patterns. All of them are concerned about the tone of their advertising in uncertain times. With that in mind, more media outlets are emphasizing their ability to do business, without trying to indulge in any kind of hard sell. AMC Networks, for example, last week unveiled an online hub that clients and agencies could use to learn about programming and advertiser offers.
Like other TV-news outlets, Fox News is seeing rising viewership due to the pandemic, which is prompting the launch of new kinds of programming. Recent audience measures include a significant uptick in viewers between 18 and 49 watching daytime programming, says Collins. In recent days, the 6 p.m. hour anchored by Bret Baier has been capturing more viewers than any of Fox News’ primetime shows, according to Nielsen, thanks in part to President Trump’s coronavirus updates.
As viewership has increased, says Collins, Fox News has seen new advertising from quick-service restaurants eager to talk about delivery options, and even from a studio that wanted to call attention to a movie that had moved to streaming video. The company is also seeing some advertisers move to get new commercials on air that are more in keeping with current events. “We are starting to see new creative messaging coming on air,” he says.
Fox News is working to expand its content offerings to give some of those clients a roost. “Now, the most in-demand content that we have in really uplifting content,” says Collins, including the “America Together” series. “That content is the type of content we are seeing advertisers gravitate toward.”