21st Century Fox’s broadcasting network witnessed double-digit drop in key demo ratings as well as total viewers in calendar year 2015. This can be attributed to the absence of Super Bowl, which aided the 2014 viewership. Fox will air Super Bowl 51 in 2017 and that will surely lift its overall revenues and ratings next year. Television ratings primarily impact the advertising revenues for a media company. Even if we exclude the impact of 2014 Super Bowl, Fox has still posted advertising losses at its broadcasting segment in the past few quarters. This can be attributed to lower viewership at its television shows as more people embrace digital video platforms, thereby impacting the ratings on traditional television.
Also, the broadcasting advertising trends are uneven, as they are driven by various events such as political campaigns and sports. In 2015, U.S. broadcast ad spending declined 3% while it was up 13% in Q4, reflecting strong scatter market. Q4 numbers are impressive and this will likely bode well for the broadcasting networks in upcoming earnings. 2016 will also bode well for broadcasting networks due to the Olympics and the Presidential election. These events will likely accelerate television ad spending and Fox, along with other broadcasting networks, will benefit from the trend as well.
Fox’s advertising revenues have been hovering around $5 billion in the last few years. The network’s advertising is impacted by lower ratings, which were down 15% in key demographics and down 12% in total viewership for calendar year 2015. We estimate the broadcasting revenues will have declined around 3% for the calendar year 2015. Despite the ratings pressure, we expect Fox’s advertising to grow in low-single-digits in the coming years. Below we discuss why.
Fox will also benefit from low upfront sales for the current television season. The network had more units to sell in the scatter market, which is seeing solid growth in pricing, as is evident from the ad spending uptick of 13% in Q4. Also, Fox being one of the Big 4 broadcasting networks will absorb a significant chunk of political ad spending amid the Presidential election this year.
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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.