Preview Tonight: Fox News Goes for the Cord-cutters with Its New Online Service Fox Nation
The Fox News Channel (FNC) is set to start promoting the launch of its major new online political, and mostly conservative, streaming service – Fox Nation – in an hour-long program that airs tonight at 8 PM ET/PT. The tag line for the new Web brand is “Fox Nation – Opinion Done Right.” The fact that New Fox, the streamlined company that is emerging from the breakup of Rupert Murdoch’s hegemonic far flung media empire, is gearing up a full-service subscription Internet video channel is significant. It is in large part a recognition that traditional cable television, despite generating revenue that is still hefty, represents the past and is starting to tank. Both its outdated platform and its audience are aging, and its growth – and profits – have largely plateaued. Television’s future increasingly appears to belong to on-demand digital and mobile applications, which are more in sync with people’s lifestyles and appeal to a younger demographic that is coveted by advertisers.
Tomi Lahren of Fox News and Fox Nation
Still frame capture from a promotional video at Fox Nation
A larger share of that younger audience, generally immune to cable news, is what Fox Nation is hoping to capture. Increasing competition these days is coming from Internet-only alternatives like the well-funded CRTV, currently the Internet television home of conservative talk stars Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, and Eric Bolling. Not to mention mega streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which continue to show impressive growth in numbers of subscribers, unlike cable. There is also a plethora of smaller scale new media and alternative media post-print options, most of them free to access, that are thriving on YouTube and other digital media platforms.
Where it all began: The Fox Nation online March 30, 2009 via the Internet Archive
The first incarnation of Fox Nation started as a free Web complement to Fox News dot com back in March 2009, just two months after President Barack Obama assumed office. Around that time, the country’s political polarization was increasing in intensity (the conservative Tea Party Movement would be birthed a few months later), and Fox Nation was designed as an outlet to take advantage of the growing popularity of opinion-based reporting and videos. Much of the content was derived from what Fox News was broadcasting. Reader comments and debates were also encouraged.
On day one, March 30, 2009, a page titled “Welcome to the Fox Nation,” accessible now via the Internet Archive, declared:
Welcome to FOX Nation, a new community where all Americans are encouraged to share, discuss, and debate. Yes, FOX Nation is here for you, the American people: your views, your values, your voice.
On February 20, 2018, just short of its ninth anniversary, Fox Nation suddenly went dark and FNC issued a press release announcing that Fox Nation would soon morph into “an exclusive Over-the-Top (OTT) opinion platform.” The retooled Fox Nation would become a stand-alone video-centric subscription-based complement to foxnews.com and the Fox News cable channel, which is now in its 23rd year and continues to lead its cable news competitors in the ratings. In late summer, another press release previewed some of Fox Nation’s talent roster and confirmed that the new service would launch in fourth quarter 2018. (The actual start date is now November 27, 2018.) According to Multichannel News (February 20, 2018), “Fox Nation is the first announced cable news OTT service, and joins other standalone OTT services from such media companies as ESPN, Disney and CBS set to launch this year.”
Some of Fox Nation’s content offerings
Still photo captured from Fox Nation Website
Last Thursday, several new press releases provided additional details of Fox Nation including its cost, $5.99 a month with a slight discount for a yearly subscription. A multiplicity of daily short-form and long-form programs will be available both live and on demand. Among the programming choices are new episodes of Scandalous, a provocative documentary series that examined the Clinton scandals in a seven part introductory run on FNC last winter, and which was reviewed favorably by this author. An occasional, informal round table political discussion program on FNC, Wise Guys hosted by William Bennett, is transitioning to Fox Nation. Popular prime time marquee hosts and contributors, including Sean Hannity, Laura, Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, will be providing as yet unspecified content, as well.
Fox Nation’s lineup of offerings will also include “audio only” versions of FNC’s most popular shows. According to a news release on Oct. 17, “FOX Nation will be the only service to offer on demand audio of FOX News Channel (FNC) 30 minutes following each program. The service will also simulcast FOX News Radio’s (FNR) popular programs such as The Brian Kilmeade Show, Benson & Harf and The Todd Starnes Show and The Tom Shillue Show.”
Original programs will be provided by a wide variety of Fox News hosts and paid contributors including former Los Angeles police detective and author Mark Fuhrman and Carley Shimkus, who is playing an increasingly high profile role on the Fox News channel during the early morning hours. In addition, there will be the documentaries, old and new, and archived series like Oliver North’s War Stories.
Tyrus, aka George Murdoch: A prominent face of Fox Nation
Still frame capture from a promotional video at Fox Nation
Highly visible hosting and promotional roles are being given to FNC contributors Tomi Lahren, 26, whose meteoric rise to fame I wrote about last year at American Thinker, and former wrestler, bodyguard, and heavyweight tattooed actor Tyrus (aka George Murdoch), 45, a protégé of FNC host Greg Gutfeld. The purpose of the high profiles accorded to these two personalities, both of whom are considerably younger and/or hipper than FNC’s usual contributors and audience, is presumably to attract a more youthful demographic of viewers and subscribers to the new brand. Each of them will have two shows a day at Fox Nation.
To make accessing it easier, Fox Nation is designed to work seamlessly on a range of digital hardware including PCs and tablets, phones (apps for iPhone and Android are available for download), and Roku and Google Chromecast.
As Variety reported on August 16, “Many TV news outlets are placing new emphasis on digital content as more viewers use smartphones and mobile devices to gain access to breaking news and information throughout the day.” All three major cable news channels (FNC, CNN, and MSNBC) have invested heavily in their Websites. Fox News is claiming bragging rights for its efforts. According to an October 2 news release:
For the quarter (July-September 2018), FOX News Digital delivered its highest quarter of page views, with 6.5 billion views, marking a 16 percent increase versus prior year, according to data from Adobe Analytics. The FNC mobile app also had its highest quarter of uniques, with 9.7 million unique devices. Additionally, Fox News was the number one most engaged news brand on social media on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram combined, according to Socialbakers.
In a September 1, 2018 ranking of US websites, SimilarWeb LTD placed CNN (#26) as the top “news and media” website in terms of traffic, followed by Fox News (#36) and the Drudge Report (#39). There were no other news sites in the top 50.
After months of anticipation and preparation, the day for New Fox to get serious about promoting Fox Nation is here now – tonight, on the Fox News channel in prime time, in the program Fox Nation – First Look. The show was pre-recorded before a live audience Friday evening at The Vault, a private party venue in Mira Mesa, a suburb of San Diego. Signups for the service that will begin streaming on Nov. 27 are now possible live online starting today. The hour-long program on Fox News tonight – at 8 PM ET/PT – is intended to introduce the new streaming service to – and immediately pump up its subscription numbers with the help of – several million viewers who tune into the Fox News channel on a typical Sunday night.
Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @pchowka.