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Streaming expansion leads to Fox News extension

Fox Nation logoIn a true sign that streaming has gone mainstream, even with the older generations, Fox News announced a new OTT service last week called Fox Nation. Without generalizing too broadly, the Fox News Channel (FNC) audience is typically older and are late-comers to the world of streaming – but recent years have seen the adoption of streaming accelerate in this cohort.

As happened with younger consumers, the increasing ease of configuring connected TVs, as well as signing up for and using streaming services, has seen adoption and usage among older consumers rapidly increase. Enabled by smart TVs (no need to worry about connecting other boxes to get internet content) and emboldened by use of Netflix or Amazon Prime (subscriptions given as birthday or holiday gifts), older viewers are entering prime time for OTT and SVOD services that cater to their interests.

For example, The Home Technology Monitor from GfK* showed that in the two years between Spring 2015 and Spring 2017, the proportion of homes with a householder age 50+ with an operational connected TV set increased by one fifth. And Nielsen’s Total Audience Report showed that usage by time of streaming video (not including smart TVs) among those age 50+ increased about 30 percent in the year between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017.

Smartly the new Fox Nation service doesn’t cannibalize the main network, which potential subscribers may watch all the time anyway. Fox Nation won’t feature simulcast or current programs shown on the FNC “mothership.” It will supposedly take deep dives via exclusive content and events, as well as offer over 20 years’ worth of FNC archive content.

Looking more broadly, the different demos within the older streaming crowd should be ripe for other OTT services marketed in a way that is friendly to the older viewer. Obviously the flip side of Fox Nation would be a liberal-oriented OTT service. PBS stations rolled out Passport in the past year, which offers exclusive streaming content to supporters of a certain donation level. The PBS crowd should also have an interest in services like Acorn or Britbox that offer a lot of programs from the UK not normally available on PBS or other outlets.

The age of affluence

As CBS’ David Poltrack has been pointing out for years, older viewers have a disposable income that is valuable – not just to OTT services looking for subscribers, but to the advertisers or sponsors on those services. Given the high average age of its audience, perhaps it’s no coincidence that CBS All Access was the first – and still only – stand-alone SVOD service offered by one of the Big Four broadcasters.

*Disclosure: the author ran The Home Technology Monitor between 1995 and 2017, and was employed by GfK until October 2017

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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