Things haven’t exactly been going well for Fox News over the past year or so.
The network’s executives making the bone-headed decision to fire Tucker Carlson put the network on extremely thin ice with its core viewer base.
And now Fox News’ alienation of Donald Trump and his supporters reportedly puts the network in a dire financial situation.
Circling the drain
Despite pulling in more daytime and primetime viewers than both CNN and MSNBC in the month of August, continuing its 30-month streak atop cable news ratings, Fox News’ year-over-year numbers are in the gutter.
As a direct result of the lingering effect of Fox News’ decision to fire Tucker Carlson, the network is pulling in 21% fewer daytime viewers and 32% fewer primetime viewers than last year as a direct result of Carlson’s exit.
To make matters worse, the 20-30% losses Fox News experienced last month were actually aided by the 11 million viewer bump the network received for hosting the first Republican Presidential debate – the losses would have been much more significant if not for that one event.
But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that’s obviously not Fox News’ only issue.
There’s also the issue of former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who have accused Fox News of being a “hostile network” that has sought to alienate them by propping up ruling-class establishment candidates who have no shot in the 2024 election and legitimizing some aspects of Democrats’ witch hunts against him, just to defeat Trump.
The former President and his legion of supporters basically want nothing to do with Fox News anymore, and as a result, Trump chose not to attend either of the first two debates, which the network broadcast.
And that may be a much bigger issue for Fox News than the loss of viewership in its Carlson-less primetime slot.
That’s because while the network can still convince advertisers to pay decent enough rates with 32% less primetime viewers, the network’s ongoing feud with Trump is stripping the network of the ability to charge premium prices for ads run during the debates, which is one of cable news networks’ most significant sources of operating revenue.
“A major discount”
As Semafor reported, while “advertisers paid a premium for airtime during the first Republican presidential debate on Fox News,” they received “a major discount during round two on Wednesday night.”
The outlet reviewed the rates proposed to one prospective ad buyer for both debates and revealed that Fox News is being forced to charge nearly $300,000 less per 30-second ad spot than they did during the first debate.
“For the first debate, the cost of a single 30-second spot topped $495,000,” Semafor reported. “But the same 30-second spot during Wednesday night’s contest would cost just over $200,000.”
“Another ad buyer did not share the rates for ads running during the first debate but confirmed that Fox was charging $225,000 for 30-second ads during the broadcast immediately after the event, and $125,000 for 30-second spots during the broadcast before it,” the report added, underscoring the difference in Fox News ad pricing for two debates just one month apart.
Semafor’s Matt Tani pointed out that with Trump holding out until the last minute before pulling out and the possibility that one of the other candidates could have a performance that propelled them into a two-horse race with the former President, the buzz around the first debate gave advertisers a more significant incentive to buy up Fox News’ ads.
However, Tani added that “as non-Trump Republican candidates fail to gain traction in the polls, there’s less incentive for advertisers to pay the same record rates as the first contest.”
“Sans Trump . . . these debates just aren’t big-time TV because the GOP primary race has become a snoozer,” one ad buyer said, according to Semafor.
Fox News shot itself in the foot when it fired Tucker Carlson, and the network is continuing to bleed viewers in its daytime and primetime lineups as a result.
But ultimately, it’s Fox News’ alienation of Donald Trump and his supporters that may truly cost the network the financial advantage it has long enjoyed.
Read All About It will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.