Fox News: The Right Demographics but the Wrong Profile

Last Updated Mar 23, 2010 3:00 PM EDT

You may think of Fox News as a competitor to other cable news channels like MSNBC or CNN. But that's not what Fox News wants everyone to think. According to a story in Ad Age, the News Corp. channel - far and away the cable news ratings leader - wants ad buyers to compare it with TNT (slogan: "We Know Drama") and USA ("Characters Welcome"), which runs dramas like "Burn Notice" and "Law & Order" reruns.

Why? Is it because Fox News has come to terms with the fact that some of its hosts fall into the entertainment category?

No. It's because Fox News wants to tout that it, too, has lots of viewers age 25 to 54 who make over $100,000 a year. There's only one problem with this line of thinking. Advertisers tend to steer clear of controversial shows like "Glenn Beck" (which has been the subject of an ad boycott) or, for that matter, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on the diametrically-opposed MSNBC.

The uncontroversial fiction presented on USA and TNT, by comparison, translates into a plain, straightforward buy. Advertisers can reach the demographics they want without the fear of consumer boycotts or angry partisans.

The Ad Age story points out that even though CNN is far behind (fourth or fifth, depending on how you do the math) in the cable news ratings race, it still gets higher CPMs for some of its programming than Fox News does. That said, Fox brings in more money. According to figures by Kantar Media, it grossed just over $500 million in 2009; Kanter estimated CNN's total take at $415 million.

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