In front of an audience of about 2,500 advertisers, Fox executives, producers and others, Fox Networks Group presented its 2016-17 programming slate at the Beacon Theater in New York City. The upfront presentation, which featured musical performances and guest appearances from FOX show talent, laid out the recent multiplatform achievements of FOX, FX, National Geographic Partners and FOX Sports. It also put a spotlight on the shows that are returning and debuting for FOX in the fall and winter.
Earning time and attention as an art form
“Earning people’s time and commanding their attention requires skill and cultivation,” said President of Advertising Sales for Fox Networks Group Toby Byrne, who kicked off the programming presentation, which functions as an advertising sales event. “At Fox Networks, we treat it as an art form, and we do it with incredible scale across our brands and on every device.”
Clearing up digital video’s funny math
Toby went on to explain the true power of a Fox Networks audience, using a World Series game with an audience reach of 14 million and a YouTube video with a supposed audience reach of 14 million. The YouTube video, Toby explained, has an actual average audience of just 1,620; flipping the math the other way and applying YouTube’s flawed math, the World Series game could boast 6.8 billion views.
“That makes the World Series quite a bargain, and it’s all pretty absurd,” Toby said. “Deceptive stats like this get published all the time. The number of views sounds impressive, but nonpremium video can’t hold a candle to TV’s scale and engaged audience.”
Toby also ran through some important numbers for Fox brands, from FOX Sports capturing 26 percent of all sports viewing in the U.S., to National Geographic Channel reducing ad loads by 25-50 percent for all its new series, to FOX boasting the top six most-watched VOD programs, to FX just posting its biggest VOD month ever with 31 million hours viewed.
“This proves that audiences will seek out bold, compelling, emotionally charged programming.”
After Toby’s remarks, Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman took the stage to walk the audience through the new and returning shows that will make up FOX’s fall and winter TV schedule, which comprises nearly 90 percent original programming, the most in the network’s history. Sophomore hits “Empire,” “Gotham,” and “The Last Man on Earth” are among the returning shows.
There are 14 new and relaunched primetime series for FOX’s 2016-17 season: “24: Legacy,” “APB,” “The Exorcist,” “Kicking & Screaming,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Making History,” “The Mick,” “My Kitchen Rules,” “Pitch,” “Prison Break,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Shots Fired,” “Son of Zorn” and “Star.”
“We reached our biggest audience in three years, as our on-demand viewing hit all-time highs,” Dana announced. FOX’s non-linear audience in the 2015-16 broadcast season-to-date is up 123 percent to an average of 1.8 million. FOX NOW’s viewership is up 28 percent, Hulu’s is up 36 percent and FOX has the top four broadcast series (“Empire,” “The X-files,” “Lucifer” and “Scream Queens”) on VOD.
Social media strength
Gary highlighted FOX’s prowess on social media, saying that the broadcaster’s 207 million fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is the largest of any of its peers. “Our audience is younger and our content is buzzier,” he said.
“The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are the top two TV series on Facebook, and “Scream Queens” and “The X-Files” are the most social series and event series, respectively, on Twitter. Gary also noted that “Empire” had the most popular Snapchat lens ever, used in 33 million snaps.
Building on a stable foundation
This fall, FOX will have its most stable schedule in four years, Gary noted. The established hits that are returning will be used to boost its new series. In the winter, the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl will be used to launch more new shows and promote the overall schedule.
After the programming presentation, the audience was taken to the post-show party at Wollman Rink in Central Park, where guests were treated to 30,000 pieces of sushi and 100 gallons of ice cream, among other food and drinks. Virtual reality stations and a section where guests could take photos with FOX stars were among the activities at the party.
Here are some photos from the programming presentation and the post-show event: