TV Upfronts

Fox Wraps Upfront With Growth in Sports, News and Tubi

It's the third major publisher to close talks

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Fox is joining the wrap party.

Today, Fox became the third major publisher to announce it’s closed upfront talks. The company follows Paramount, which closed talks this morning, and NBCUniversal, which wrapped negotiations last week.

According to Fox sources, Fox Sports, driven by NFL, MLB, college football and the World Cup, saw growth in both price and volume. Plus, Fox News Media had “market-leading pricing and volume growth” ahead of the upcoming election season.

In addition, the company’s AVOD Tubi saw its fourth consecutive year of volume growth.

Ad sales chief Marianne Gambelli previously told Adweek that Tubi, which recently added Anjali Sud as its new CEO, was set to be a major priority during negotiations. According to Gambelli, the streamer now has 64 million monthly active users and saw 44% year-over-year growth, even being represented in Nielsen’s streaming report The Gauge.

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment increased upfront sell-out over last year. According to sources, Fox Entertainment is “well-positioned” amid the ongoing writers and actors strikes, with unscripted and animated programming set for fall.

Like NBCU and Paramount, Fox sources chose not to go into detail on whether CPMs (cost per thousand viewers reached) increased or decreased. However, this year’s upfront is expected to be a soft market, as economic headwinds have led to the slowest upfront in years.

In 2022, Fox had CPM increases of around 9% to 12%, and in 2021 the company pushed for CPM increases in the high teens and low 20s. But this year’s negotiations were expected to bring rollbacks in pricing.

Striking a balance for negotiations

Following Fox’s upfront week event in May, which kept marketers on their toes, Gambelli commented on negotiations, telling Adweek that everyone was in “evaluation mode” at the time with factors such as the ongoing writers strike causing some delays.

“I think the strike has just put a little bit of a slowdown on it. I think Nielsen pulling back on the big data and their measurement has changed things. So I think everybody’s in a pause moment right now,” Gambelli said. “We’ll get through this week. People are trying to see what’s out there, trying to evaluate what the strike plans would be, how long this will happen. They want to evaluate all the OTT or CTV options, how they’re going to put it together.”

Gambelli added that clients were “cautious about the economy.”

“They’re a little reluctant to commit quickly. Everything is being rethought right now,” the ad sales chief said, adding that the company was expecting a second-half recovery.

“With the writers strike, you may see a loss of GRPs, which I don’t think anybody anticipated. So that may mean clients might not get their money down where they want it. I think all that’s being taken into consideration right now.”

Why the fall schedule is falling later

In addition to negotiations, the strike also drastically affected Fox’s fall schedule, with the company delaying its fall lineup for the second year in a row.

“Rather than announce a schedule today that we might not be able to meet this fall, we will hold back until we have a better handle on what programming will be available to us,” Dan Harrison, evp of program planning and content strategy, told reporters in May.

The company finally announced its reality and animation-heavy schedule in early July.