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Armed With Record Ratings, Fox News Has New Pitch To Advertisers

“For the last six months, we’ve been trying to position ourselves as more than just direct competition with CNN; that’s over for us in a way. The general perception among media buyers, especially the 25-year-olds who don’t watch TV news anyway, is that it’s downscale. But there’s no number that doesn’t contradict that.”

— FNC’s Executive VP of ad sales for Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and Fox News Digital Paul Rittenberg tells AdAge about the new strategy the network will employ when pitching to advertisers this year.

We’ve written a lot about FNC’s record ratings – ratings that have the news network looking to knock off cable competitors outside of the news world. So how does this translate to advertisers? It’s all part of FNC’s new pitch.

EVP Rittenberg tells AdAge about the upcoming strategy:

Fox’s big push to advertisers this year will be to pit its upscale audience against the more mass-reach networks like TNT and USA. “For the last six months, we’ve been trying to position ourselves as more than just direct competition with CNN; that’s over for us in a way,” he said. “The general perception among media buyers, especially the 25-year-olds who don’t watch TV news anyway, is that it’s downscale. But there’s no number that doesn’t contradict that.”

Part of Fox’s upfront pitch will include a slide that shows its share of 25- to 54-year-old viewers with household incomes of $100,000 or more. Among its broader competitive cable set, Fox has 26% share of cable’s gross rating points among that audience, more than History (12%), Discovery (11%) and CNN (9%).

The ability to talk about the “quality” viewership in the key demo is huge for FNC. Obviously, as the ratings reach exponentially higher heights than CNN or MSNBC, the $100,000+ demo figures are bound to rise as well. But this market share, with nearly triple that of CNN, will look extremely attractive to advertisers.

The article does note two other factors to the ad discussion – first being Glenn Beck. As big-name advertisers withdraw from the controversial opinion program, FNC contends they haven’t lost any ad revenue. That’s because those advertisers spread their money to other programs. In fact, just one, Apple, chose not to advertise with the network as a whole.

The other factor is the web – an area currently dominated by CNN. Armed with strong web presence as well as great out-of-home viewership, CNN employs a multi-platform approach to advertisers, arguing they can get them more total, different eyeballs because of their reach. But:

CNN continues to command a higher price for many of its programs despite ratings attrition in 2009, and it grossed $415 million in measured ad spending in 2009, according to Kantar, a 0.7% decrease from 2008. CNN has been pitching advertisers on the growth of its online video views as well as its out-of-home viewing in airports and bars, as measured by Arbitron, which helped them hold on to more ad dollars even as prime-time ratings dropped.

However, three media buyers Ad Age spoke to said Fox has started to close the CPM gap with CNN despite the latter’s multiplatform pitch.

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