Advertisers — and Netflix’s lack of — were the themes of Fox’s upfront presentation, which took the hybrid approach, offering a prerecorded virtual option and in-person event at Skylight on Vesey in lower Manhattan. It was a much smaller, more intimate venue than the Beacon Theater, the network’s longtime upfront week home.
Ad sales chief Marianne Gambelli opened the presentation by noting Fox’s “proudly ad-supported” approach to its business. With the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar; NFL football (and the impending arrival, though no one knows when, of Tom Brady to the Fox Sports broadcast team), and two of the next three Super Bowls; the World Series (and MLB’s crowd-pleasing Field of Dreams game), and the fledgling USL, the network had a lot of live programming to tout. And Fox Sports chief executive officer Eric Shanks didn’t mince words when it came to the company’s core revenue driver. Addressing the assembled media buyers, Shanks quipped: “We absolutely love selling pizzas, and phones and insurance. We know, without you we would be Netflix.”
The Murdoch empire, considerably smaller since the $71 billion sale of much of the company’s assets to Disney in 2019, touted its One Fox mantra which aims for synergy among the company’s brands. Of course, Fox News Media (which includes flagship Fox News Channel, Fox Business, subscription streaming service Fox Nation and Fox Weather, launched last year), has taken on outsize importance in the portfolio. And the presentation reflected the positioning of Fox News Media in the One Fox firmament with CEO Suzanne Scott getting the slot right after Shanks. Scott touted the “broadcast level” audiences for the network’s primetime hosts, which include the polarizing Tucker Carlson. But the division’s presentation mostly focused on the network’s news programming with appearances from Cross Country host Lawrence Jones with Bret Baier and Harris Faulkner touting the network’s upcoming midterm election coverage.
Next up was Tubi founder and CEO Farhad Massoudi, who noted his goal to “democratize content,” stressing Tubi’s business model as the “only free ad-supported streaming service.” To that end, he revealed that Tubi will stream full replays of every World Cup match beginning right after the final whistle of each live game on Fox.
Fox Entertainment chief Charlie Collier closed the program with assists from Jon Hamm, who will voice and executive produce the animated half-hour “Grimsburg”; Jamie Foxx, who will executive produce the missing persons drama “Alert,” and Marlee Matlin, who will make her directorial debut on Howard Gordon’s crime anthology drama “Accused.”
Talking up Fox Entertainment’s diverse, young and dedicated audiences, Collier pointedly threw shade on the business model of rival content giants. “We know Disney and Netflix can’t afford to build their paywall without your money,” he said, addressing media buyers. “Recent headlines say advertising is back,” he said. “I didn’t know it left.”