With the networks presenting their fall schedules to advertisers this week, Fox’s new primetime lineup will be more dependent on sports and live programming than ever. While there are still entertainment standbys like 9-1-1, The Simpsons, Empire and The Masked Singer, Fox will have Thursday Night Football, WWE Smackdown, college football and its Sunday NFL schedule to help bolster its programming.
In addition, Fox will have its usual MLB Postseason slate with the World Series in October. It will also have Saturday XFL games in primetime starting in February.
Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks brought out the firepower from his lineup with Fox NFL Sunday’s Terry Bradshaw, MLB analyst Alex Rodriguez and WWE’s Stephanie McMahon all speaking to advertisers. His message is that while an entertainment show draws a fragmented audience, live sports bring a lot of eyeballs to TV:
Fox’s live sports assets, which include the top-rated Sunday NFL window as well as “Thursday Night Football,” college football and the World Series, make the net a must-buy for marketers looking to reach the greatest possible number of consumers during the time of year when Americans spend the most money.
Shanks also notes that the divestment of FX and National Geographic has allowed Fox to focus on selling sports as a stand-alone entity rather than bundling that high-end content with the less consistent cable fare.
The takeaway: Fox is ready to unleash more sports and live programming than its rivals, and it wants advertisers to get on board now.
As Fox has Thursday Night Football though 2022, MLB well into the next decade and a solid Big Ten contract, plus a lot of cash after selling its entertainment assets to Disney and plenty of programming hours to fill, it will likely be a major bidder on sports in the future. It’s up to advertisers to determine whether or not that future is certain enough to buy in now, which is clearly what Fox executives are hoping to sell.