Commentary

Trump Takes Pot Shots At Fox News, NBC Posts Higher Upfront Ad Sales

Cozying up to the President can be overrated. Now, President Donald Trump is taking a few more swings at his still-favorite TV news network.

In regards to a Fox News poll showing him losing to former Vice President Joe Biden by 10 points: “Now new Fox Polls, which have always been terrible to me (they had me losing BIG to Crooked Hillary), have me down to Sleepy Joe,” he tweeted on Friday.

Is this good for the upfront advertising sales of TV news networks? The answer might be: wait until next year.

Presidential-related drama -- tweets, controversial remarks at press conferences, etc. -- continues to draw big viewership -- and TV marketers -- to news channels. Even though TV news viewership has soften a bit from its steady rise since Trump took office.

Since 2016, TV news advertising revenues have been growing overall -- now around $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion per year for all networks/channels, according to estimates. In part, some of this has to do with “live” TV viewing of news channels, known to pull in premium priced advertising media schedules -- as well as steady viewership growth.

Looking forward, NBCU recently said its MSNBC news channel posted 6% higher upfront advertising sales for the coming September-August TV season, one that will see a ramp up in presidential campaign advertising.

That 6% number would be much higher than an industry average for all mature TV networks -- broadcast, cable, digital, or otherwise.

Upfront estimates for Fox News Channel and CNN are a bit murkier.

Media executives say Fox News Channel posted mid-single-digit percentage CPM gains -- with overall flat volume versus a year ago.

There is less specific information on CNN. Media executives say WarnerMedia gained double-digit percentage for cost-per-thousand viewer increases across all its Turner networks, as well as “maintaining spend in linear” TV.

All that doesn’t sound promising -- at least in terms of volume gains.

A key metric missing here is how much upfront volume was sold during the recent period for these networks -- whether it was up or down. Typically, a cable TV network might sell 60% to 70% of their overall yearly ad inventory in the upfront sales period.

No doubt, President Trump will continue sniping and or gloating at media -- fake, real, psychotic or otherwise -- which has an effect.

Recently, Trump ripped into Fox News Channel host Martha MacCallum for some allegedly softball questions to Rep. Eric Swalwell, former Democratic presidential candidate.

“Fox sure ain’t what it used to be,'' he tweeted on Tuesday.

Earlier in the month, Trump ripped into the right-leaning cable news network for “loading up with Democrats” and forgetting “the people who got them there.”

Later on in the evening, after the initial MacCallum tweet, Trump set out another message: “Oh well, we still have the great @seanhannity who I hear has a really strong show tonight.”

Does that strength also includes new ad dollars for Hannity? Maybe Trump (or Hannity) will tout this cozy financial news.

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