Fox News, battered from its clashes with Tucker Carlson and facing a second GOP debate without former President Donald Trump, has been forced to slash its prices for advertising by more than half as viewership plummets for its premier showcasing of also-ran candidates.
Sources familiar with Fox’s pricing structures told Semafor that the rate for 30-second advertisements during Wednesday evening’s debate is now $225,000 and down from the $495,000 charged during the first GOP debate last month. Prices for 30-second ads during the run-up to the debate will cost $125,000.
The change reflects dissatisfaction among Fox viewers who are tuning in to listen to squabbles between Republican rivals who are badly behind President Trump in the polls. Recent surveys have shown the Republican frontrunner garnering upward of 60 percent among likely GOP primary voters.
“Sans Trump… these debates just aren’t big-time TV, because the GOP primary race has become a snoozer,” one ad buyer told Semafor.
Another source close to Fox defended the new pricing structure, saying the change is “not accurate in terms of what were actually sold.” The source added that viewership for the first GOP debate outperformed expectations and that the network has commitments for advertisements from corporations across an array of major industries.
Still, the sleepy atmosphere is palpable in the pre-coverage of the debate. Other networks will likely tune into a speech that President Trump plans to deliver to United Auto Workers at the same time, a move that positions him toward a general election audience in a swing state that President Joe Biden desperately needs to win if he is to retain the White House. Advisors to the president are giving Trump credit for out-maneuvering them among a union crowd that is not monolithic and has expressed dissatisfaction with President Biden for failing to stand with them early during their ongoing strike with the nation’s three largest automotive companies.
The no-good, terrible, very bad news for Fox will continue to mount heading into the third GOP debate which President Trump has already promised to skip as well. While his plans are unknown, the Republican frontrunner is undoubtedly ratings gold and can command viewership that surpasses Fox as he did during the first debate when he held a competing sit-down interview with Tucker Carlson.