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Fox Plans to Lean Into “Live” (And Tubi) in Upfront Pitch

Ever since Disney acquired most of the entertainment assets from (what used to be) 21st Century Fox, the leaner Fox Corp. has tried to zig while others have zagged. It doesn’t have a broad-based SVOD offering (Fox Nation is much more targeted) and instead has leaned into broadcast TV, the free Tubi streaming service, and sports and news, with a heavy cable component.

Marianne Gambelli, the president of ad sales, marketing and brand partnerships for Fox, says that the company’s “different” composition of content will be a focal point at its upfront presentation Monday afternoon.

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“Our portfolio leans into live, live news, live sports, a very precise amount of entertainment and then Tubi, for which growth has been explosive over the past year,” Gambelli told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “So obviously we’re bringing that to market as a very important product for us. And to monetize that growth as sort of like a digital always-on platform.”

Fox only programs two hours of programming on its broadcast network each night (CBS, NBC and ABC program three), and it places a heavier emphasis on unscripted programming and animated fare, giving it more flexibility amid the ongoing writers strike.

And Tubi is also particular focus. With the linear TV ad business struggling across the board, streaming ads continue to be up on a year over year basis as brands embrace the more precise targeting and automated buying.

“[With Tubi] you have premium content at scale, with all the digital attributes around targeting and data and ease of programmatic buying, so it’s like the best of both worlds,” Gambelli says. “And I think that the audience has already shifted and has gotten very comfortable with these platforms. The money is following.”

Similarly, sports will be a top priority, as it too has shown some immunity to the larger macroeconomic pressures.

“Obviously, our sports portfolio is huge, especially in the fall, right? Starting with NFL, the number one show in television, college football MLB has all the postseason stuff. So it’s huge for us,”Gambelli says. “It’s live. It’s big scale. So I think the money’s migrating there to capture that audience and that passion and that engaged viewer. News — even though it’s not an election year — it’s kind of leading up to election, so there’s lots of debates. I think all eyes are going to be tuned to news, especially Fox News. Advertisers want to capture that audience as well.”

Gambelli notes that while many competitors are trying to sell full packages of ads to buyers (NBCU, Disney and Paramount are all bundling streaming with linear with digital), Fox sells “in verticals, meaning that we have specialists across news, sports and entertainment, because we feel that they’re distinct properties that need to be sold separately.

“But during the upfront we come together and we work with clients across the verticals,” she adds, noting that if clients want to buy multiple pieces of the portfolio, they can, or they can focus on a single piece if they’d prefer.

As for the health of the overall marketplace, Gambelli notes that there is still some choppiness, though certain categories are performing better than others.

“Categories like travel and dining are still on the rise after COVID kind of went away,” she says. “We’re hoping automotive seems to be stabilizing coming back as supply chain issues have been solved and they focus on EVs, and pharma, you know, it’s always so patent driven. So it’s kind of hard to tell there but they’ve been very active, so I’m assuming that’ll be okay. One area that we’re still seeing a little stress in is financial markets, which have been kind of tumultuous as interest rates have gone up.”

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