Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight has seen its ad revenue drop by 50 percent since 2017, as advertisers flee the show amid calls for a boycott, even as ratings remain strong.
As CNN reports, advertising breaks on Carlson’s show betray two important facts: First, the commercial breaks are shorter than they would be on similar news/opinion shows in a similar time slot; second, the advertisers that do buy spots on Carlson’s show aren’t exactly big-name, nationwide brands.
As to the amount of advertising time on the show, The Hollywood Reporter has the numbers. Prior to December 2018, Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 36 different commercials during the hour-long program, not counting promo spots for other Fox News programming. These days, that number is down to 16.
And the caliber of advertisers is down as well. Lexus and Samsung are out, replaced by Aspen Dental, Home Chef, and of course, MyPillow, whose conservative CEO Mike Lindell steadfastly supports advertising on Fox News programming.
What made the difference? The latest downturn in advertising time and advertising quality can likely be traced to Carlson’s December 2018 remarks on immigration, which spurned calls for a boycott.
“We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, [our leaders] tell us, even if it makes our own country poor and dirtier and more divided.”
In fact, Carlson’s December remarks may yet just be the tip of the iceberg. Liberal watchdog Media Matters has unearthed a number of misogynistic and racist remarks that Carlson has made in the past, further driving the advertiser exodus. And of course, Carlson’s show largely consists of anti-immigrant rhetoric and other conservative talking points, a brand of news entertainment with which some advertisers seem to be unwilling to associate themselves.
Mimi Chakravorti, executive director at the branding firm Landor, says that this is the “new normal” for Fox News – divisive hosts driving away advertisers.
“It’s a part of the Fox News brand to shock and have their hosts take divisive stances. But as the ad revenue stream gets threatened and public voices get louder it may get harder to justify sticking by these hosts. It’s a fine balance Fox News has to maintain — to cater to their base but also not to cross a certain line.”
Tucker Carlson is not the first Fox News host to see advertising revenue drop in the wake of calls for an advertiser boycott. Following the Parkland School shooting, host Laura Ingraham made disparaging remarks about survivor David Hogg; Hogg responded by calling for an advertiser boycott, and several major brands did, indeed, jump ship.