Cheat Sheet Q&A: Does O'Reilly have to worry about his future due to advertisers defecting?
Today's entry: Brian, At what point will advertisers canceling force Fox to do something about Bill O'Reilly? I figured you might know something about this because of threats made against Rush in the past.
Bottom Line: Here are two things that are safe to say...
1. Fox News is in the business of making money so advertising defections do matter
2. I can't begin to tell you exactly what the threshold would be before Fox would think seriously about the future of his show (but I can provide you with plenty of info that might help frame what's really going on with this).
Before getting down to the details that matter most it's critical to understand/remember why companies advertise. They're advertising, in this case with Bill O'Reilly's show, to reach his audience. The most common mistake with these types of situations is to be clear on that point. Whether it's Rush nationally or me locally, advertising is never about the people you're watching or listening to - it's about reaching the audience. So in other words - it's you, not the advertisers, that will dictate the future of the The Factor. It's why Rush has been able to whether the storms over the years and why most likely O'Reilly will come out of the other end of this controversy as well.
If he maintains millions of viewers (which happen to be of above average means) - there will doubtless be advertisers that will want to reach them. Now if you have regular advertisers, why do they continue to advertise? Because it works and they're getting a return on their investment! I assure you that no advertiser on Bill Reilly's show is doing so just because they like it or him. So if advertisers are successfully making money by reaching his audience but they stop advertising what happens? They'll make less money! So in other words, most companies that decide to defect - if the audience hasn't - actually stand to hurt their business. Now many of the companies that have decided to pull are major consumer brands that spend so much on advertising - they've made a calculation that the impact to their business won't be significant. But here's the thing...most of the top advertisers on Fox News, and the O'Reilly Factor specifically, aren't major consumer brands that have received a lot of attention for pulling. Those brands are typically obsessed with reaching younger demographics (which is a whole other silly story).
You've likely heard that more than 20 advertisers have pulled from the show. Here's what you probably haven't heard. Four of the top five advertisers, including the largest advertiser during the Factor, have remained. The only top five advertiser that pulled was Pfizer - which advertised Viagra during the show. This is similar to what's played out in the past with regard to Rush Limbaugh. Big numbers of advertisers were said to have defected under past boycott efforts, but the one's that did were rarely significant advertisers and Rush's #1 radio audience remained which always led to other advertisers wanting access to his listeners.
This is about you - the viewer/listener - not the advertiser and you hold the cards as to what the outcome will be.
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