Fox Strikes Ad Gold With $600M Super Bowl Sunday, Political Ads

By Jill Goldsmith, Dade Hayes

fox, super bowl, ad revenue
Jennifer Lopez at the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show. Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports/Picturegroup/Shutterstock

Fox Corp. generated $600 million in gross revenue in one day on Super Bowl Sunday, said CEO Lachlan Murdoch, as advertisers flocked and paid for the gamut – pre-show,  game and the Season 3 premiere of The Masked Singer immediately following the game.

Murdoch said the company is now headed towards “the political equivalent of the Super Bowl” – the 2020 presidential elections.

“If history is any guide, audience levels will build” through the primaries, caucuses up to election day,” he said. Benefits won’t be limited to Fox News but will spread to its local stations, which he said recorded gross political revenue of more than $200 million for the 2018 midterms, shattering records set in 2012 by 40%. Murdoch described the Super Bowl and the election as “the two events that command the attention of the entire country.”

Murdoch said Fox is already seeing early signs of a big influx in dollars, though he didn’t quantify it. Nationally, he noted, President Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg have each paid for airtime, including on last Sunday’s Super Bowl, but so far only Bloomberg has had much of a local attack.

“Pacing is very strong but we’re at the very beginning of it,” he said. “We’ve seen some national advertising from both sides of the pol spectrum. We haven’t seen any advertising yet locally from the president’s re-election campaign. But of course we’ve seen a lot of advertising already starting to come in on the Democratic side. It’s been reported that the Bloomberg campaign was expecting to double its advertising spend. The Bloomberg campaign is buying on a week to week basis, so it’s hard to project that out. Obviously, we expect it to be very strong, particularly in the markets of our local TV stations.”

While advertising was a key topic during the 40-minute call, management also fielded a question about Fox’s dealings with Roku. Fox was an early-stage investor in the streaming purveyor but last week clashed with the tech company over carriage terms and revenue sharing terms for Fox apps. In addition to its own connected devices, Roku’s interface is in about one-third of all smart-TVs in the market.

“We went through a very normal-course negotiation, not unlike the negotiations we have with all of our distributors” Murdoch said of the brief distribution impasse, which was resolved late last Friday. “Ultimately, they, like all of our distributors and platforms, saw the value of the Fox brands and content on their platform and we were able to reach a new agreement, I think to mutual benefit. Throughout it all, it was very professional. We have huge regard for [Roku founder and CEO] Anthony Wood and his management team. … They’ve positioned the company to be one of the lead, if not the lead, beneficiaries of over-the-top streaming and we are happy shareholders in the company.”

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