Fox Nation seems eager to expand its chief export.
The streaming service, originally conceived as a place for “super fans” of Fox News Channel, has in recent months been filling its digital shelves with a show led by Nancy Grace; faith-based shows tied to Easter; and vintage movies and TV series. It will serve as a place where fans of a new version of the long-running TV program “America’s Most Wanted” can watch the series a day after it debuts on Fox Corp. sibling Fox Broadcasting.
Expect more programing devoted to crime and justice and other topics, says Jason Klarman, a veteran TV executive who was named president of Fox Nation in January. Subscribers looking for that content “could be Fox News viewers or not be Fox News viewers. They could just be fans of Nancy Grace or ‘America’s Most Wanted,’” he says in an interview. “We know there is an opportunity for us to expand beyond opinion and news on the service,” he adds.
The executive declined to specify how many subscribers the service has signed, but noted that 80% of people who try Fox Nation typically stick with it — a figure Fox executives have offered in the past.
When Fox Nation initially launched in 2018, executives described it as a sort of “Netflix for conservatives.” That umbrella description appears to have room for a viewing of Elvis Presley’s 1968 comeback tour; a documentary on the life of Rush Limbaugh narrated by former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence; the series “Duck Dynasty;” or a screening of Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
“I would say news is always going to be part of the DNA of the place, but I think that what our audience wants is what Fox News can’t give them, which is a deeper experience around stories and the news that they are watching. We do that for them and they want us to explore other areas in the lifestyle and entertainment space that would not run on the channel,” Klarman says. “We see this as a great opportunity to engage beyond the news.”
As media-industry rivals like ViacomCBS and Disney start to build out a portfolio of streaming businesses, perhaps Fox Corp. is too. The company bought Tubi, a standalone ad-supported streaming venue, for $440 million in March of last year. Just as ViacomCBS operates both Pluto and Paramount Plus and Disney backs both Hulu and Disney Plus, it’s not too difficult to see Fox corporate executives viewing Fox Nation as a sort of subscription-backed cousin to Tubi. Earlier this month, Fox Corp. CFO Steve Tomsic told investors the company over time expects “the advertising revenue we earn on Tubi will exceed the advertising revenue we generate on the [Fox] broadcast entertainment network.”
Fox Nation’s move to broaden its offering comes as several of the nation’s big TV-news outlets have found that streaming fans want different types of programming than what they see on broadcast and cable. Streaming viewers don’t have to gather at a certain moment to watch something in tandem with thousands of others; they can pick what they want at any moment they choose. Many of them are seeking deeper dives on particular topics and non-fiction programming that moves beyond soundbites and on-air conflict.
To be certain, the service isn’t dropping its political content. Indeed, primetime host Tucker Carlson recently struck a new pact that will have him crafting bespoke programming for the streaming outlet. One show, “Tucker Carlson Today,” which is billed as “unfiltered, unafraid, and unstoppable,” launched this week. As part of the agreement, Carlson’s executive producer, Justin Wells, was named vice president of Tucker Carlson digital products. Fox Nation recently offered the contents of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, something Klarman says would not be possible on Fox News.
Klarman brings a varied line of experience to his post. He had a hand in shaping communities of interest around the NBCUniversal cable networks Bravo and Oxygen, as well as Trio, the cult-favorite cable network that re-aired some of TV’s best work that never found a mainstream audience. In a prior stint at Fox News, he helped launch the network in 1996. During his recent time there, he has also helped market the network as well as its books division.
In months to come, Fox Nation subscribers can expect to see more content from a range of genres that might not be the first things people associate with Fox News. “We are in discussions with lots of different people well beyond the news genre,” says Klarman, suggesting that Fox Nation is likely to introduce programming having to do with real estate (it has already launched a project with Mansion Global, a real-estate content brand that is part of Dow Jones & C0, part of Fox Corp. sibling News Corp.).
“You can start to see that there’s a brand filter,” Klarman says. “But it’s not limited to just a traditional news brand.”