TV Upfront

Fox Upfront Diary: Homer Simpson Makes Advertisers Gasp

Seth MacFarlane Gives Tour of Toby Byrne's House

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'Empire' cast member Jussie Smollett performs during the Fox's 2016 upfront presentation on Monday at The Beacon Theatre in New York.
'Empire' cast member Jussie Smollett performs during the Fox's 2016 upfront presentation on Monday at The Beacon Theatre in New York. Credit: Frank Micelotte/Fox Broadcasting
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Seth MacFarlane kicked off Fox Broadcasting's upfront presentation on Monday with a pre-recorded tour of ad sales chief Toby Byrne's mansion. He pointed out Mr. Byrne's "fancy f-ing mustards" as he discussed video-on-demand, ad skipping and digital video.

"Ads on TV do better than ads on digital. Why? No one knows," he said.

Mr. MacFarlane, creator of Fox shows including "Family Guy," ends up in bed with Mr. Byrne and asks him if he wants to watch "Game of Thrones."

"Don't you mean 'Gotham?'" Mr. Byrne replied.

"Yeah, that's what people watch on Sundays," Mr. MacFarlane answered.

Of course, the opulent home in the opening video wasn't actually Mr. Byrne's, which Mr. Byrne made sure to clarify when he returned to the stage, lest ad buyers get the wrong idea.

Like NBC did earlier on Monday, Fox took the opportunity to put digital viewing, or "sub-prime video," as Mr. Byrne called it, into perspective. Mr. Byrne said 80% of the time millennials spend watching content is spent on TV, adding that the metrics digital publishers have been providing are "rigged."

No Fox presentation right now would be complete without a performance from the cast of "Empire," so that happened, too. "Let's see the cast of 'NCIS' do that," said Gary Newman, chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, taking a dig at CBS' long-running drama.

And the jabs at the eye network didn't stop there. Later in the presentation, Mr. Newman introduced DC Comics' biggest villain of all -- Lex Moonves -- and showed an altered photo of CBS CEO Les Moonves made to resemble Lex Luther.

Homer Simpson also sent a message that made the audience gasp more than once, calling CBS' audience "walking zombies" and saying "I would take a shot at NBC, but I don't think they are still on the air." Simpson even poked fun at Fox: "They responded to the challenge of ratings by stopping releasing ratings," he said, referring to Fox's decision to discontinue releasing overnight ratings.