Road to the Upfront: Fox

News Corp. broadcaster relies on youth appeal

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NEW YORK ( -- With the annual TV market selling event just weeks away, Fox finds itself just a tenth of a rating point behind ABC in the all important 18-49 year old demographic. Here's Advertising Age's weekly look at one of the major broadcast networks and how they are positioned for the 2006-2007 TV season.
Jon Nesvig
Jon Nesvig

The Player: Fox Broadcasting

Key Executive: Jon Nesvig, president-ad sales

The Ratings Game: Through April 9, Fox is just a tenth of a rating point behind ABC in the 18-49 year old demographic. Fox pulled in 5.17 million viewers in the demo with a 4.0 rating against ABC 's 5.3 million viewers and a 4.1 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox, however, has "American Idol," which ranks as the nation's top show with a 13.4 rating in the demo on Tuesday night and 12.5 rating on Wednesday. This year Fox has demonstrated much greater depth: "House" is gaining in popularity and "Prison Break" is a hit.

According to MediaVest's research on broadcast network performance, Fox is projected to end the season on May 24 with a 4 rating in the key advertiser demo. That would make Fox the leader in 18-49 bracket for the second straight year.

What You'll Likely Hear: Fox is gunning for ad budgets against the 12-24 year old demographic and will be hammering home its ratings success in that demo. The network will also work hard to bring advertisers digital media offerings across the board as part of its "Generation Fox" initiative, which offers advertisers properties beyond the small screen. Product integration is also a big theme. Expect more shows with advertisers playing a role akin to Burger King's partnership with reality show "Unanimous."

Last Year's Upfront: Fox pulled in around $1.65 billion (about even with the previous year), though the network refused to talk about what percentage of inventory it released in the upfront. Fox performed well in the scatter market given the popularity of "American Idol" against NBC's Olympic coverage.

The Buyer's Verdict: Mark Gibson, assistant VP-advertising at State Farm, said: "Fox seems to be the most customer-centric when it comes to purchasing in the upfront and looking at the programming that makes sense for you, to help you achieve your goals as an advertiser."
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