| By Fred Taub,
I had an interesting conversation with someone I
highly respect, San Francisco area radio host Angie Coiro, about the Glenn Beck
boycott. According to reports she provided, the Glenn Beck boycott is working,
cutting the Fox News Channel show's revenue on half. In fact, there are many
articles claiming that exact number, yet Boycott Watch was unable to find any
direct sources for that number other than from the boycotters themselves,
putting those numbers in doubt.
There are two
problems with the claims. First, Beck's television show has 2.1 Million viewers
and the closest competitor has 600,000 viewers, thus Beck has nearly four times
the viewers. In television and radio, ratings translate into dollars, thus
creating a lower cost per viewer or listener for each ad unit. This turning
shows with a large viewership into bargains for advertisers, explaining why
major sporting events are draws for major advertisers.
Second, political boycotts
always have counterparts, balancing the boycott. More to the point, people
don't buy products they see on ads like robots. Rather, name recognition makes
consumers more likely to buy the advertised product. This also explains why
cheesy infomercials must be repeated very often to garner sales.
Assuming the revenue decrease numbers are right
though, having four times the viewers but half the revenue as the boycotters
claim would still give Beck double the revenue of his closest competitor, thus
a hit for Fox and Beck. More likely, the boycott numbers are exaggerated, but
even if they are not, the Beck show would still be bringing in far more revenue
than any other show in the same timeslot. The boycott, therefore, has not had
the boycotters' desired result.
In our Twitter
conversation, Angie Coiro claimed that having Beck as a guest on the O'Reilly
Factor show on Fox hurts the O'Reilly show revenues, but if that were the case,
Bill O'Reilly who literally owns the show would not have Beck on, not to
mention go on a speaking tour with Beck, so her claim has no merit.
Additionally, when show hosts appear on the shows of other hosts, it is usually
for mutually beneficial cross-promotion or to fill in when other guest slots
are suddenly open, not by network contract. These guests, therefore, are the
Fox has neither posted per-show
revenue nor responded to a
York Times article claiming Fox can't profit from the Beck show because of
the Boycott. While some may say silence by Fox is evidence the boycott is
working, the fact is the boycott is not proven either way. On the other hand, a
February, 2010 report in
Times titled "News Corp. revenue up 10%, Fox operating income nearly
triples" points to an increase in revenue, thanks in part to including from
overall cable television revenue.
Fox has not
provided individual show revenue, probably because many shows are the property
of its prospective producers, such as Beck and O'Reilly, which is why they each
have their own staff members who they pay for themselves. It would be up to
Beck and O'Reilly, for example, to release their own revenue numbers but they
really have no reason to. Fox certainly has the option to cancel any show in
its lineup, and there are surely plenty of prospective hosts standing in line
for any timeslot. Boycott
Watch first wrote about this boycott December 14, 2009, so it stands to
reason that had the boycott been successful, Fox would have been cancelled by
now, yet almost two years after it started, Beck is the king of his timeslot
with show revenue to match.