Fox News Chief: ‘To Change the Product to Get a 28-Year-Old Would Be Foolish’

By Chris Ariens 

Advertisers of cable news like to reach viewers that are between the ages of 25-54. As it turns out, the median age of cable news channels is outside even that older demo. As of the end of 2015, FNC’s median age was 68, MSNBC’s was 63 and CNN’s was 61.

The challenge for new Fox News ad sales chief Marianne Gambelli is to give brands other opportunities to buy advertising. In May, Gambelli replaced Paul Rittenberg, the only sales chief FNC has known. In an AdAge profile, Gambelli says a closer relationship with younger-skewing FOX Networks Group and a focus on digital are among her priorities.

Gambelli said CNN’s digital efforts have made it look more modern and fresher on-air, something she hopes happens as Fox News undergoes its own digital reinvention. That could help her sell more ad packages across platforms, something the company doesn’t do much today. Under [former FNC CEO Roger] Ailes, Fox News was only doing the basics in digital. “Not to speak ill of the dead,” she said, “you had a TV mindset.”

Tucker Carlson, who replaced the network’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, in May following a sexual harassment scandal, has already helped bring down the median age for the 8 p.m. hour, which benefits the entire network.

Still, Gambelli said, “I don’t think the news is going to get any younger.”

“We have a very large and loyal audience,” said FNC co-president Jack Abernethy. “A bulk of our revenue comes from subscription fees. They love their cable subscribers. To change the product to get a 28-year-old would be foolish.”