Media Matters President Angelo Carusone: “Even If Bill O'Reilly Stays, His Show Will Never Be As Profitable”

Carusone: Fox News Said It Themselves ... 'If You Have A Television Show And You Have Advertiser Problems, You No Longer Have A Television Show That Is Viable."

From the April 5 edition of Cheddar News:

KRISTEN SCHOLER (CO-HOST): We know that you’ve been following the developments in these sexual harassment claims against Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, and as of right now ABC reporting 22 advertisers pulling out of advertising at least temporarily on his show. How is this going to force Fox News to respond long term? We’ve heard the response short-term which is it’s working with these advertisers, but big picture what do you think this means?

ANGELO CARUSONE: One thing that at the top that I point out is, when we think about the number of advertisers that have dropped, that 22 number is the ones that have given public statements.  From just observing the program and his advertisers the last couple of weeks, and then what his advertising looked like last night, and just from my own experience of running and being involved in similar kinds of advertiser efforts, like against Glenn Beck, I suspect that many more advertisers have actually adjusted their ad buys but just haven’t given public statements yet. Because many of the advertisers that had been advertising on the program every single night for the past few weeks did not appear last night after this controversy blew up, and I don’t think they’ll be there tonight. 

JON STEINBERG (CO-HOST): Angelo, at what point -- because they’re sticking by this guy, because he brings in money. And they basically don’t care; they don’t care how  bad it is or what he’s done, he makes them so much money that they’re going to stick with him. At what point is it enough advertisers that the math -- the problem is, this looks bad for them, and it could be even worse for them, they could have gotten ahead of this and been like, “this guy’s toxic, we’re done,” right? Instead they paid his settlements, stuck by him, now they’re going to lose money and now they’re going to have to pull the ripcord on him, at which point it looks like they’re just doing it for the money.

CARUSONE: And I think that’s the exact right question, which is at what point does it actually start to affect them? What happens during these kinds of flare-ups is that there’s an assumption on the public’s part that if O’Reilly was to leave the program in a couple of days, that everything was pointless and worth it and Fox News is totally fine and Bill O’Reilly is totally fine. That’s actually just not true, and during the Glenn Beck period, after he lost a wave of advertisers, his advertiser rates never recovered. He limped along for over a year. His advertiser rates were a quarter of what other Fox News programs were even though he had a million viewers than many other Fox News programs, comparable ones, during similar time slots. He was beating the programs around him by a million viewers but his advertiser rates for the same advertisers, and for the same commercials, were sometimes a fifth of what they were on just a program an hour later or an hour earlier. That’s because they fell precipitously after he lost a lot of advertisers. The market addressed that issue; once you started to see there’s a problem buying ads on that show, media buyers weren’t going to pay the same rates anymore, and they never did. So that’s the first thing that I would point out, that no matter what, even if Bill O’Reilly stays, his program will never be as profitable as it was three days ago. That is just a bottom-line fact. 


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