Fox Nation Is Thriving Where CNN+ Imploded

Source: IndieWire
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Fox Nation, the subscription-based streaming side dish to Fox News Channel, is wrapping its best month of 2022 in what was already a good year. Compare that with CNN+, which lasted all of 32 days this spring.

In November 2018, Fox Nation launched to satiate the Fox News obsessive who (somehow) couldn’t get enough of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the gang over on cable. It originally provided content a step or two beyond the news and opinion programming from the popular Fox News Channel personalities, and has since added the linear channel’s primetime shows on-demand, as well as original history, lifestyle, and travel programming — even Christmas movies.

It’s been quite the evolution, one perhaps best summed up (or predicted, depending how you look at it) by Fox CFO Steve Tomsic back in June 2021.

“So, Nation started as sort of an ancillary service or a supplementary service figure for the Fox News superfan,” Tomsic said at an investor conference. “In the first sort of 12, 18 months, the content was geared toward that that Fox News superfan. I think we’ve become much more conscious of Fox News having a capacity to have influence, not just from a news perspective, but on a much more broader portfolio of programing, because the audience is incredibly loyal and incredibly willing to sort of consume content that Fox News, the brand, the overall sort of Fox News media landscape serves up.”

Before branching into “Tucker Carlson Today,” “Tucker Carlson Originals,” and even programming that has nothing to do with Tucker Carlson, Fox Nation added Carlson’s primetime telecast to its library on a next-day basis — the same with “Hannity” and Laura Ingraham’s shows. CNN+ never did that: The CNN linear offshoot was all original programming and an attempt to preserve the company’s billion-dollar linear business. CNN executives missed the part where you need a lot of people willing to pony up to see your personalities outside of the newsroom.

But back to Fox: “With those two things coming together, we think that there’s a much broader type of programing that Fox Nation can get involved in and serve its audience and drive subscriber growth and drive that sort of continued loyalty that Fox News media portfolio of assets,” Tomsic continued.

The CNN+ sign-up page.

The CNN+ sign-up page, while it lasted.


The same summer, Clint Eastwood signed a movie deal with Fox Nation. This year, Nation debuted its first original series “Duck Family Treasure” (from the “Duck Dynasty” gang), its first original movie “The Shell Collector,” and its first original holiday movie, “Christmas at the Greenbrier.” Other 2022 highlights include reality series “Sharon Osbourne: To Hell and Back,” the second season of the revived former Fox broadcast series “COPS,” and an announcement that a Roseanne Barr stand-up comedy would be coming to the platform next year.

And then there is Kevin Costner — and Fox — cashing in on his smash-hit Paramount Network series, “Yellowstone” with Fox Nation series “Yellowstone: One-Fifty.” One has nothing to do with the other, really. Nation’s “One-Fifty” celebrates the 150th anniversary of the national park; Costner, the picturesque landscape, and a clickbait title are the only things in common with the scripted drama.

Well, there’s also the (relative) popularity. “Yellowstone: One-Fifty,” which debuted on November 20, is already Fox Nation’s most-watched show of the year. Combined with the streamer’s “Patriot Awards” three days earlier, Fox Nation executives had a few extra reasons to be thankful this month.

Kevin Costner in Paramount Network's "Yellowstone," not to be confused with Kevin Coster in Fox Nation's "Yellowstone: One-Fifty"

Kevin Costner in Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone,” not to be confused with Kevin Coster in Fox Nation’s “Yellowstone: One-Fifty”

Courtesy of Paramount Network

Yes, Fox Nation is having its cake and eating it too — without cannibalizing Fox News Channel viewers, which was the CNN/CNN+ concern. While CNN and MSNBC are down 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively, according to Nielsen data, this year in viewers throughout the day, Fox News Channel is up 13 percent.

Want more impressive stats? Fox Nation has an 85 percent conversion rate, which means only 15 percent of those who sign up for a free trial cancel before their first payment kicks in. In May, Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said Nation has a churn (cancellation) rate around just 7 percent, around the same as Netflix and among the best in streaming.

In May, Murdoch said Fox Nation grew subscribers “tripled in less than 18 months.” In August, he said the subscriber base had grown “by approximately 80 percent over the past fiscal year.” Media-industry researcher Michael Nathanson has estimated that Fox Nation has more than 1 million paying subscribers. A Fox Nation insider told IndieWire the number is higher than that, but Fox does not report subscriber numbers for Fox Nation.

Though there is a Black Friday promotion going on now, a subscription doesn’t generally come cheap (hooray, ARPU!): Fox Nation costs $5.99 per month (or $64.99 per year), a buck more than the least expensive Peacock, Discovery+, and Paramount+ plans, and $1 less than Apple TV+; Hulu and Disney+ are each $7.99 per month.

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