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Volume 25 No. 29
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"New Fox" Pushes Live Sports, New Ad Pods During Upfront

Fox' upfront presentation included discussions about the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia
Photo: FOX SPORTS PR

Fox held its upfront presentation yesterday in N.Y., and the words "live sports" were "thrown around so many times during the presentation it was almost an athletic feat in itself," according to Rose, Guthrie & O'Connell of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Fox TV Group co-Chairs & CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman used the platform to predict that Fox' fall lineup will draw 82% live viewing "courtesy of new entry 'Thursday Night Football.'" Newman said, "We have an opportunity to chart a new course for broadcast television. Positioning our network for the future and not tethering it to the past -- and spoiler alert: It’s really bright." What that future holds exactly, however, is still "very much up in the air." Fox "didn't commit" $600M a year for "TNF" rights to "not make it the focal point of its advertising pitch" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 5/14). Ad Age's Anthony Crupi tweeted, "Why does it matter that Fox Sports owns the fall? Because in the 20 weeks of the football season, consumers spend about $300 billion more than they do January through August" (TWITTER.com, 5/14). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Michael Malone noted Fox President of Advertising Revenue Joe Marchese during the presentation talked up "JAZ Pods, which will feature two 30-second national commercials per break." Marchese said that the spots will "appear in Fox’s prime, in Fox Sports and on National Geographic." Walden and Newman said that the 82% live viewership they are predicting is "ahead of NBC's projected 74%." The duo mentioned the net's "younger viewers, and massive social footprint." Fox' Joe Buck came out during the presentation to "talk about sports, including the World Cup" on Fox and FS1, "TNF," college football and the World Series. The words “We own the fall" appeared on the screen. Alex Rodriguez was next, talking about how baseball was headed for a "great, great summer and even better October" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 5/14). Washington Post's Steven Zeitchik: "Joe Buck comes out at Fox upfront and goes right to the topic of the day, saying 'you can now gamble' on sports and soliciting applause, which he gets." NPR's Eric Deggans: "The fact that Joe Buck is killing the best at Fox's #upfront is all you need to know about who is actually sitting in that roomful of advertisers" (TWITTER.com, 5/14).

LONG WAIT: VARIETY's Daniel Holloway noted NBCU's upfront segment about NBC Sports yesterday "kicked off with the U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team taking the stage." They drew a "standing ovation, but also inadvertently highlighted the fact that this is not an Olympics year for NBC." One of the Gold Medalists, after promoting the World Cup on Telemundo, said, "And let’s not forget about the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020!" It served only as a "reminder of how far away that is" (VARIETY.com, 5/14). The Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint tweeted, "I'm not saying the NBC upfront was long but when it ended attendees were shocked to learn it was five years later."

DIFFERENT APPROACH: PostWrestling.com's John Pollock: "The WWE has a major presence at today's NBC Upfront" (TWITTER.com, 5/14). In N.Y., Joseph Staszewski writes, "If you thought there was any chance WWE would build up Ronda Rousey in even a semi-conventional way, forget it." The company used Rousey as the "box office attraction she has proven to be" when it announced that she will face champion Nia Jax for the Raw women’s title at the Money in the Bank PPV June 17 at Allstate Arena in Chicago. The news "didn’t come on the company’s television programs, but by Jax challenging Rousey to her first title match during a WWE video" at NBCU's upfronts (N.Y. POST, 5/15).