Boycott Watch  
October 12, 2010
Boycotters claim success with Glenn Beck Boycott,
numbers prove otherwise.
Summary: Even if Beck boycott has the claimed success, Beck's ratings far outweigh any loss.
By Fred Taub,
Boycott Watch

    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 hosts' choice.

    Fox has neither posted per-show revenue nor responded to a New 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 LA 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.

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