Fox Charts Its Merged Future With Vision Of Sports-Fueled, Ad-Streamlined Offering – Upfronts

Fox execs offered ad buyers a vision of the “New Fox” future, walking them through its new “JAZ” commercial pods and a fall lineup they expect will draw 82% live viewing thanks to the addition of Thursday Night Football.

Disney has announced its plan to acquire most of 21st Century Fox (though Comcast could also enter the fray), except for the Fox broadcast network, local stations and Fox News, a portfolio the company calls “New Fox.”

Photo by: Frank Micelotta/Fox

“This is an opportunity to chart a new course for broadcast TV,”said Fox CEO Gary Newman. Added fellow CEO Dana Walden, “Were positioning our network for the future and not tethering it to the past.”

After the proposed acquisition by Disney, Fox will be separated by its main supplier of programming, sister studio 20th Century Fox TV, which is one of the assets that are being bought. Newman touted New Fox being a non-vertically integrated network as an advantage for doing shows that are tailored for US audiences.

Noting that other nets are monetizing its programming via ownership, which prompts them to develop series with an eye on the international market where their sister studios would make a large chunk of their money, Newman stressed that New Foxs focus will be “right here on the American marketplace.”

Then, after the events annual spree of zingers in an animated Simpsons clip created for the occasion that featured Homer reading a slew of predictions, including one that Crackle and Apple will merge to form Crapple, Walden joked, “If this whole New Fox thing doesnt work out, we could always run Crapple.”

Joe Marchese, the network groups ad-sales chief, kicked off the event at New Yorks Beacon Theatre. He said the network is aiming to weave together brand messages with programming, as well as sports programming with non-sports scripted and unscripted fare. The drama in the World Series, he argued, “is no different than 911 or The Four.”

One key initiative his team is rolling out to ensure that brands get bang for their buck, he said, is called “JAZ pods,” short for “just A and Z,” meaning two brands having spots next to each other during reduced commercial breaks. With a streamlined ad load, Marchese said, not only will viewers be more engaged but ad buyers will see more brand lift.

On the upcoming FX documentary series The Weekly, a collaboration with the New York Times, he said, JAZ pods “will be among the most powerful ads on television,” with “lower frequency, higher impact. The viewer wins, the advertiser wins.”

Marchese said existing efforts to shake up the status quo, such as the 6-second ads the network has aggressively implemented, are starting to produce tangible results. A T-Mobile campaign during the World Series highlighting the companys support of hurricane relief efforts (including in Houston, whose Astros won the Series in seven games) was deemed a success by the telecom company. So much so, he said, that T-Mobile has increased its budget for socially conscious spending (a quality that 80% of consumers expect from brands) from 5% of its overall marketing spend last year to 30% this year.

As NBCUniversals Linda Yaccarino did in her upfront appearance earlier today, Marchese also hit on the advantages of linear TV compared with tech giants with vast storehouses of digital inventory. Fox, he said, plans to work directly with brands to help them achieve goals. Digital companies, he said, are neutral to a fault. “Ive never understood how someone can promise you sales outcomes and then work for your competitors,” he said.

Marcheses leadoff slot ended on an amusingly akward note as Jamie Foxx, host of Fox music show Beat Shazam, would not let him offstage, holding him firmly by the hand and trying repeatedly to get him to dance to a booming hip-hop beat. Smiling gamely but not letting himself get roped in, Marchese wriggled away. “This part wasnt scripted,” he said, “but its happening!”

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