Advertisers fleeing Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight is nothing new, yet it’s seemingly ramped up further in the early days of 2021. Carlson’s one of many conservative media types who can take some blame for stoking fires among voters on the right, and was happy to do so again in the immediate aftermath of last week’s terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.
As brands distance themselves from candidates willing to support insurrection and/or a denial of free and fair election results in this country, those moves also extend to the media enterprises that most align with those candidates. Using data from iSpot, we can see to what extent most advertisers have already left Carlson through nearly two weeks of 2021. While new episodes of his program air in primetime, you certainly wouldn’t know it here (this list compiled from new airings only, from Jan. 1-12):
My Pillow’s 22 minutes of ad time are about 4x the amount of time Fox News promos have received during Tucker, and the $1.1 million spend so far (over 29% of the total) is also more than 4x the next-highest brand during the show. The New York Times recently noted that My Pillow is sticking with Donald Trump, and that steadfast dedication applies to Carlson as well. My Pillow made up “just” 12.8% of estimated brand spend on Fox News from Jan. 1-12, according to iSpot, so the brand is putting a good deal of that (about 25% of its Fox News total) on Tucker.
Beyond My Pillow, Carlson’s advertisers basically read like a list of brands you’d be more likely to see in overnight or day time, instead of primetime. No offense to advertisers that typically appear in those dayparts, of course. But the brands that appear during Tucker are getting primetime placement and the audiences that come with that. Perhaps those lists shouldn’t look so similar. They do here because most brands would rather avoid the hate stemming from the program itself.
Looking around that list of the 10 biggest advertisers by spend, we can see the typical dayparts where they appear. The majority of AliveCor’s non-Tucker ad spend is during daytime, early morning and early fringe. Relaxium’s spend so far this year is almost entirely on Tucker. Lear Capital’s usually day time, while Pure Talk USA is early fringe or Carlson’s show. Nutrisystem is the only top advertiser that appears elsewhere with real frequency, though, even having ads show up during NFL games already this year.
For brands that haven’t bailed on Carlson by this point, it’s tough to see what really changes their minds on him. The program being a hub for intolerance is nothing new. Where things could maybe get more troublesome for these advertisers is if/when Carlson leans more heavily into justifying right-wing violence as that threat seems to be intensifying.
For now, however, he’ll remain on the air, buoyed by My Pillow and a handful of daytime advertisers.