Beginning at 6 p.m. ET., Special Report’s Bret Baier and The Story’s Martha MacCallum, will co-anchor Fox News’ America’s Election HQ: 2018 Midterms special from the friendly confines of Studio F at Fox News’ HQ in New York.
But the real action will be outside the studio. Fox News is holding an interactive viewing party on Fox Square, the plaza directly outside of the network HQ on Avenue of the Americas. There, Fox News aficionados will be able to watch and interact with the latest coverage alongside Fox News Headlines 24/7’s Carley Shimkus, who will provide live updates and reactions from the crowd.
From 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. ET on Fox Square, FNC will host The Fox Nation Election Experience where Fox News fans can get a sneak peek of Fox Nation –the new subscription-based streaming service that costs $5.99 per month – and will have the chance meet Fox News hosts, along with live music, book signings, food and giveaways.
Co-host of The Five and host of Watters World, Jesse Watters and Fox News Channel svp of marketing Michael Tammero gave TVNewser an exclusive grand tour of The Experience hospitality tent, which was getting finishing touches when we stopped by Monday afternoon.
Upon entering the tent, we saw walls painted red and adorned with information about the Fox Nation product; there were kiosks with iPads where fans can learn more about the product and sign up; a step and repeat area where Fox News fans can meet and greet their favorite talent; a photo booth, a ton of swag (t-shirts, buttons, Fox Nation-branded towels) and more. There will also be a food truck right outside the Experience for those looking for an election night pick-me-up.
How long did the Experience take to come together? “Two weeks!,” said Tammero, the brains behind the whole operation. “The idea came about during the summer, and we really started pushing to drive it to execution in recent weeks.”
“We’re providing a true fan experience here, and it happens to coincide with the midterms so there’s going to be a ton of energy here tomorrow,” added Watters, who, along with his buddy and co-host Greg Gutfeld, will be hanging out with fans in the Experience tent after finishing up The Five. “In addition to meeting the Fox Nation ‘Founders,’ I think we’re going to bring new people too off the streets, get them to sign up, and get them in the building.”
Fox News “Founders” are people who have already signed up for the product (the official launch is Nov. 27). They’ll receive VIP status, which includes access to book signing inside Studio A, the studio adjacent to the Experience hospitality tent that has been re-done and will serve as the home of Fox Nation programming.
For other Fox News fans wanting to check out the Experience, they’ll enter from West 48th Street and wait in a general admission line (there’s a velvet rope, as you can see) before entering. The hope, Tammero says, is to get as many people to sign up for the service while in the tent as possible.
We also received early access to Studio A, the first studio used at Fox News that has been redone and will be the new home for Fox Nation.
“We’ll have talent behind the desks in Studio A tomorrow, signing books and interacting with the fans,” said Tammero.
Fox News svp of development and production John Finley joined us later in the tour, and we asked him how Fox News will deem the direct-to-consumer product a success.
“In terms of real numbers, I don’t know the answer to that yet, but there is early enthusiasm, it has been selling briskly, and I think everyone is jazzed about it,” said Finley. “As you said, yes, it’s very different, but it’s exciting and it’s building off of the Jesse Watters ‘superfan’ base, which is all we need!,” a remark which elicited a grin from Watters.
“I’ll be honest with you: After we did the launch in San Diego, I got a lot of people coming up to me on the street, asking me ‘What’s that Fox Nation thing’?,” added Watters. “I think there’s a lot of interest already, based off of our launch show.”
What will Watters bring to the platform? “I’m going to be doing an ‘after-the-show’ show, so when I get off The Five, I’m going to be doing a weekly wrap up show,” he said. “It will be something looser, a wrap up of the week, a wrap up of the show, we’ll be taking questions too, giving viewers and behind-the-scenes look, so that will be fun.”
Is the network worried that the product could take viewers away from the linear channel, or is it just being thought of and marketed as a supplement?
“We’re positioning it as a supplement,” said Finley. “I think for Fox fans there’s plenty of time to do both. The way we’re programmed with our live schedule, this will compliment the news channel. For folks who can’t get enough Jesse Watters, Fox Nation gives them more to do,” he continued. “I think it will be fine.”
As for Tuesday’s Experience, Tammero is fired up and grateful to the powers-that-be for helping to make all of this happen.
“This has been one of the most collaborative projects we have done here at Fox News in 20+ years and that credit goes to Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace who have worked so hard to change the culture here,” Tammero remarked. “Every group from MPG, Operations, programming made positive contributions.”