Fox News is going to take a massive financial hit as many as 15 advertisers have pulled their ads from Bill O’Reilly’s show The O’Reilly Factor, in the wake of a new wave of sexual harassment revelations.
Lexus became the latest luxury brand to drop advertising from The O’Reilly Factor, but it isn’t just luxury cars that want nothing to do with O’Reilly or show. The list of advertisers to dump O’Reilly includes, “Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW of North America, Mitsubishi Motors, Lexus, Constant Contact, Bayer, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, UNTUCKit, Allstate, Esurance (which is owned by Allstate), T. Rowe Price, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Orkin, and Wayfair
Fox News is trying to downplay the advertiser exodus by saying the ad dollars are being allocated elsewhere on the network:
BREAKING: Statement from Fox News on the wave of advertisers pulling out of The O'Reilly Factor pic.twitter.com/sBcRqnTwVV
— Tom Kludt (@TomKludt) April 4, 2017
(Fox tried this same line in the early days of the Glenn Beck advertiser boycott too).
The problem for Fox News is that Bill O’Reilly is their most valuable asset. Between 2014 and 2016, O’Reilly brought in $416 billion in advertising revenue. If that revenue or a sizable portion of it vanishes, it leaves a big hole in the bottom line of Fox News.
A similar situation played out with Rush Limbaugh. After making sexist comments about Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh faced an advertiser boycott that crippled the stations that paid big fees to air his show. Radio stations couldn’t sell advertising on his show, and eventually, Limbaugh was moved to smaller stations in major markets as his ability to sell ads was reduced to virtually nothing. Limbaugh has been a non-entity ever since. He is no longer prominent in the national political discussion, and he is largely irrelevant outside of conservative circles.
Fox News already lost tons of money when they tried to ignore the Glenn Beck advertiser boycott. If they choose to do so with O’Reilly, it could crush the increasingly struggling network.
Bill O’Reilly is a big part of what kept Fox News on top, so it is fitting that he may also be the one to bring the network down.