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Volume 26 No. 181
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Fox Sports Contacts Ad Agencies To Relay Info On Sports' Return

Fox Sports completed a virtual road show this week to six ad buying agencies. While no one knows when sports will return, Fox execs, including CEO & Exec Producer Eric Shanks, Exec VP/Sports Sales Seth Winter and Exec VP and Head of Strategy & Analytics Mike Mulvihill, walked the ad buyers through various scenarios that may happen. “They are starving for information,” Winter said. “It was really an information exchange.” Shanks spoke about the different scenarios for when sports will come back, and Mulvihill gave a presentation on viewership patterns. “This was not a sales pitch at all,” Winter said. “We did not talk about anything regarding sales. It was all programming, what we’re doing and what we think will happen -- running through all the different scenarios and all the different leagues.”

Every spring, Fox Sports hosts ad agencies before the annual upfronts to highlight their MLB, NFL and college football schedules in the fall. Last month, Winter and Senior VP/Ad Sales Marketing Dan Donnelly produced a video that Fox planned to send around to the agencies. When they showed the video to Shanks, he suggested a series of video calls that started Tuesday with GroupM. Fox Sports had three on Wednesday (Horizon, IPG, Optimum Sports), one on Thursday (Dentsu) and one scheduled for today (PMX). Winter: “All of us are suffering financially. ... How do we get the information into the marketplace regarding how sports are being programmed and how can clients best plan for that?”

Fox has allowed some of its advertisers to get out of their ad commitments during the pandemic. Winter would not list specific advertisers, but he said they involved the QSR, casual dining, automotive and motion picture categories. Fox’s hope is that those advertisers push their schedules into the summer. “We’re not making them stay on the air,” Winter said. “We’re hearing that they want to be back on the air and they want their businesses to be restored, but we have to work with them and that’s what we’re doing.