When television networks conduct their upfront presentations to advertisers, they usually present their upcoming fall primetime lineup with a little sports sprinkled in. But a funny thing happened with Fox on Monday.
It spent a good quarter-hour on sports that not only gave advertisers and reporters an idea what was upcoming not just on the Fox Mothership, but also on FS1. And it included with a bizarre hip hop performance from the Fox NFL Sunday crew and crude jokes from Joe Buck. Alex Rodriguez also made an appearance:
— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) May 16, 2017
But all that aside, there’s a method behind the madness for Fox. Sports makes up a a huge chunk of programming especially in the fall when Fox airs the World Series (a big winner last year with the Chicago Cubs involved and subsequently winning), the NFL on Sundays that include nine late national windows whose ratings are often higher than all of primetime itself, and colllege football which will for the first time will have the Big Ten on board.
With a primetime lineup that will be American Idol-less for the second consecutive year, the once-blockbuster series “Empire” that is cratering in its third season and “New Girl” going into its final season, hits are few and far between for Fox. Sports programming is the one true ratings winner for Fox so it’s only natural for the network to not only be so dependent on it and make it a part of the upfronts.
This season, Fox had the Cubs World Series and Super Bowl LI which had the Patriots’ historic win over the Falcons. Both events gave Fox huge ratings and they’re major reasons why the network elected to use the upfronts this year for sports.
So as Fox goes into the 2017-18 television season, it will use sports as a major launching pad for its programming in the fall.
And Fox will not be the only network will dependent on sports for its programming. NBC will have Sunday Night and Thursday Night Football in the fall as well as Super Bowl LII and the Olympics back-to-back in February and those winter events will likely pace the Peacock to a ratings win for the season.