Wolk’s Week in Review: Fox is getting into the lifestyle game, “This Is Us” finale sees over 6 million live viewers

Wolk's Week In Review

1. Fox Is Getting Into The Lifestyle Game

Unlike its peers, Fox did not dive head-first into the Streaming Wars, and it often feels like the company is getting left behind as the other three major broadcast networks have launched splashy new apps and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Dave Zaslav, owner of HBO Max and Discovery+, announced plans to become the 5th broadcast network.

Fox does own Tubi, one of the more popular free ad-supported streaming TV (FASTs) and while they have been making good use of the service, it’s not the same thing.

That is why, like many in the industry, I assumed when I saw Sara Fischer’s article in Axios this week about Fox moving into lifestyle content that it would be via Tubi. 

But no, I was wrong. The new lifestyle content is actually via Fox News.

Why it Matters

In a different world, Fox’s plan to focus on news and sports would seem especially clever, given the popularity of those two genres and the growing consensus that they are necessary for a streaming service to succeed.

The sports part is, of course, fine and Fox’s sports properties are well regarded and now even feature their proprietary Fox Bet sports betting service.

It is easy to see someone (Netflix?) buying them as a way to get a turnkey sports operation up and running.

Fox News, OTOH….

So there’s that. All, all, all that.

Which, curiously enough, has not stopped Fox from planning to roll out various lifestyle brands for Fox News fans. There’s the Fox Nation news app with original programming from Tucker Carlson, an app Murdoch contended could have a subscriber base in the “higher single digit millions.”

There’s also a Fox Weather app, which runs in conjunction with local affiliates and already has 1.5 million downloads from people seeking a different take on thunderstorms.

But Fox Nation is where the action is, as Murdoch plans to supplement the current roster of outdoor and documentary content with the sort of food and home content that will appeal to the Fox Nation audience. (I’ll let you use your imagination on that one.)

There’s even a Fox News Books division where over 1 million books have been sold on behalf of various Fox News personalities, such as Shannon Bream, whose Women Of The Bible Speak has sold roughly half a million copies, as per Adweek

There is competition in this area though. Fischer notes that Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, has launched an entertainment arm that “focuses on dramas that rebuke political correctness.”

Take that Ricky Gervais.

What you need to do about it

If you're Lachlan Murdoch, focus more on Tubi and bringing it up to speed with the other FASTs, Peacock included, by catering to the audience that likes Fox shows like The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers and creating more originals that appeal to them. They’re younger and they’ll be around for a while. The fact that you did not offer up any new shows at the upfronts this year might be a signal that is where you’re heading, but a clearer signal would help.

And while you’ve sold off your RSNs, there’s still plenty of life left to Fox Sports for now, and the more you can double down on things like betting and fantasy leagues, the better. 

If you’re Sara Fischer, great reporting and even better job if you managed not to call him “Kendall” at all during the interview. Well done.

2. “This Is Us” Series Finale Sees Over 6 Million Live Viewers

This Is Us, NBC’s long-running drama, has won a bunch of Emmys and is considered to be among the best of traditional network TV. That said, while it is now considered impressive that the series finale pulled in around 6 million live/same day viewers, that number needs to be considered in context of the M*A*S*H series finale back in 1983.

That episode, the most watched series finale ever, drew in roughly 106 million live viewers.

Why it Matters

While the ratings for This Is Us are likely to double once the streaming and DVR (L+7) numbers are in, the 100 million viewer difference is pretty striking.

Okay, very striking.

It’s a stark reminder of just how difficult it’s become to navigate the TV landscape in 2022, especially for advertisers. 

As in if you were one of the brands that advertised on CBS during the series finale, you reached half of the people in the U.S. in one fell swoop. Recreating that today would be all but impossible except on the Super Bowl, where 112 million viewers tuned in this year (and paid very close attention to the ads…) 

But you get where I’m going with this. TV has become a very fractured medium and outside of a single football game it’s tough for advertisers to reach any sort of critical mass of viewers without cobbling together a mix of programming on both linear and streaming.

Which is where we are today—a hybrid ecosystem, where some viewers are mostly on streaming, some are mostly on linear, some are on both and some are just on one or the other.

It’s far more difficult to navigate than buying a single episode of M*A*S*H, but that is where we are and where we will be for the foreseeable future, and smart advertisers will need to suck it up and figure out how to make the best of it.

What you need to do about it

If you are one of the bigger players in the TV ecosystem, it’s time to work together to make things easier. As MadHive’s Jeff Fagel noted on TVREV the other day, the real enemies are Google and Facebook, not other TV companies. They’re the ones taking your ad budgets. So join forces and take some positive action to counteract that.

If you’re an advertiser, you need to embrace the new hybrid ecosystem and learn how to make the best out of all the various pieces. We’re here to help.

Speaking of… if you are going to be in Denver for the Stream TV Show on Monday, June 6th, be sure to stop by the TVREV Special Session on FASTs, where you’ll hear speakers from MadHive, AMC Networks, Pluto, Crackle, Magnite, DISH, Amagi, iSpot, Samsung and more.

Check it out!

Alan Wolk is co-founder and lead analyst at the consulting firm TV[R]EV. He is the author of the best-selling industry primer, Over The Top: How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry. Wolk frequently speaks about changes in the television industry, both at conferences and to anyone who’ll listen.

Wolk's Week in Review is an opinion column. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of Fierce Video.