Fox News Channel's plans for New Year's Eve? A New Year's Eve special with fewer ads and more time allotted to the business of celebrating.
Thanks to a sponsorship by Prudential, Fox News' "All American New Year" will air with limited commercial interruption and, in a surprise, none of the local ads that typically extend some commercial breaks seen on cable TV. All the ads will come from Prudential, but there will be fewer ads overall in the show.
The special airs from 11 p.m. Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1, EST. It will be hosted by Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer, with contributions from Greg Gutfeld, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Rick Leventhal and Maria Molina. The live program is scheduled to include performances from country music stars Big & Rich and Trace Adkins, as well as the cast of the Tony Award-nominated "Rock of Ages." Viewers can participate by texting special holiday messages, which will appear on a screen ticker throughout the entire show.
The practice of working with an advertiser to be the sole sponsor of a TV show -- and running a sponsorship that makes the program longer and features only the marketer's commercials -- has been adopted by several TV-news operations.
In 2005, Philips Electronics bought all the ad time on CBS's "60 Minutes" and ran fewer ads while touting how its efforts added time to the program's news segments. Philips brought the practice to NBC's evening newscast in 2006, and Fidelity tried it at NBC in 2007. Pfizer and CVS have sponsored longer program segments on Monday-evening newscasts operated by ABC News. During one broadcast, Pfizer ran a 2.5-minute ad for the anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex, whose sales had been affected by concerns about Vioxx, a rival medication.
TV networks typically try to secure a premium from sponsors. In 2008, Fox News corporate sibling the Fox broadcast network offered "Remote-Free TV." It would run "Fringe" and "Dollhouse" with fewer ads and shorter commercial breaks in exchange for an heftier-than-normal price for a 30-second spot.
You would think that fewer ads means fewer ad dollars, but in this scenario, having only one sponsor's ads run throughout a show is worth more to many marketers at a time commercial "clutter," with dozens of promotional entreaties, is confusing viewers.
Not surprisingly, TV executives hope the idea keeps viewers from turning away.