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Sports, Streaming Drive Volume As Fox Wraps Upfront

Lachlan Murdoch
Efren S. Landaos/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Madison Avenue’s growing interest in sports and streaming video helped Fox Corp. nab new ad dollars amid a softening market.

The owner of the Fox broadcast network, Fox Sports and Fox News Channel expects an uptick in advertising commitments made in advance of its next programming schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the company becomes the latest media outlet to wrap negotiations in the industry’s annual “upfront.”

Advertisers were interested in Tubi, Fox’s ad-supported streaming hub; the company’s sports events; and its Fox News programming, this person said, among other offerings.

The company could see an uptick of volume committed to its primetime broadcast schedule in the mid-single-digit percentage range. Using projections of 3% to 7%, Fox might have secured between $1.4 billion and $1.84 billion. In last year’s upfront negotiations, Fox secured between $1.36 billion and $1.72 billion for broadcast primetime, according to Variety estimates, compared with $1.36 billion and $1.64 billion in 2020.

At a recent investor conference, Fox Corp CFO  Steve Tomsic said the company saw “really, really strong levels of commitment, which are north of where we were at this time last year. And just as important in all of that, apart from doing it with all of our traditional linear nets, we’ve been able to get really really strong interest and commitments for Tubi.”

The nation’s big TV networks are trying to lock in ad deals for their next programming season as Madison Avenue keeps its eye on a slumping stock market and worries about the prospect of a recession. NBCUniversal earlier this week said its upfront volume was “comparable” to what it secured next year.

Fox sought increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is central to these annual discussions between Madison Avenue and TV networks. The company pressed for CPM hikes of 9% to 12%, compared with significantly broader increases last year.