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How Radical of an Ad Change is Fox Suggesting? A Look at the Numbers

At the Upfronts (and on prior media tours), Fox Network Group new ad chief Joe Marchese made the pledge to radically change advertising including this bombshell that Fox Networks Will No Longer Run “Standard” Commercials in VOD, Digital (via Variety).

The fine print is that the change in inventory will be on FX and (maybe FXX) to start. So how big of a shift is that? iSpot.tv (which tracks TV ads 24/7 across linear, VOD, OTT and time-shifted from a panel of 10 million connected TVs) shows that live, same-day linear impressions accounted for 95.8% of advertising impressions. And FXX is much the same, with 94% of ad impressions coming live or same-day. But the remaining balance amounts to substantive numbers — FXX generated more than 384.8 million VOD TV ad impressions and 356 million on FX, respectively.

In the same range, 93.7% of total traditional ad loads on Fox Network. That’s because Fox’s primary network impressions are generated on a glut of sports programming; NASCAR, the Super Bowl, NFL Playoffs. But that’s still a large number of VOD/OTT that iSpot mapped to FOX is 1.2 Billion TV ad impressions as of last week.

When you look at non-sports shows, the picture changes more significantly. Perhaps the most compelling example of how binge-watching is driving network decisions — Anger Management over-indexes with 62.7% of ad viewing coming live or same day. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets 85% of traditional ads live or same-day. And Fox’s Lethal Weapon, which is best at keeping advertisers tuned in on Fox (93% view rate), sits at 81% for that same measure.

Marchese makes a more interesting case against YouTube and Facebook, and the paltry seconds — that can be dramatically underlined and supported by the TV device impression counts. Fox network has racked up more than 37 billion TV ad impressions this year, FX, 24 billion; FXX chipped in another 9 billion. When you consider the average ad completion rate of 85% (and all those that tuned in and skipped) for your average 30-second ad, well, you probably don’t have to get out the calculator to realize just how much, in the way of viewer seconds, is being delivered.

Let’s not jump all-in on the TV is way better than digital bandwagon though, because if social and digital really wasn’t impactful, people wouldn’t be stuck on their phones while walking down the street. That kind of attention is valuable, even if for a short burst and especially if it’s in the context of branded entertainment. But in looking at the Fox insights, one other thing jumps out at me — and perhaps nails why a relatively young and super-savvy Marchese would be speaking of the advertising in seconds and deriding disruptive advertising.

Take, for instance, the scripted show with the best average view rate and a sizable platform-shifted audience, Lethal Weapon; 72% of the audience is over 35.

And yet, Always Sunny

Seems like this move is being made with very careful consideration by Marchese and Fox after all