Why the loss of big-name advertisers doesn't matter to Glenn Beck

If cable news was like high school, Glenn Beck would be voted "Most Polarizing." He's despised by liberals and beloved by conservatives (and anyone who loves weepy men). But like that high school geek who astounded the more popular kids when he went on to make a fortune, Beck has shocked onlookers by managing to cement his role in the Fox News line-up even though he caused many of the show's top advertisers to flee. His offense: describing President Obama as "racist."

On a broadcast of Fox & Friends in July, Beck interjected during a discussion of the Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. affair to add this about Obama: "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." The result? Major advertisers fled his show, including top-end marketers such as Mercedes-Benz USA and Infiniti, according to Gawker.
Four months have passed, enough time for some of those advertisers to let bygones be bygones and take a second look at the show. So far, none are biting. The program, which is aired on News Corp.'s (NWS) Fox News Channel, does however continue to draw small- and mid-sized advertisers, MediaPost reports. Data from TiVo (TIVO) backs that up: a Nov. 11 episode included a range of B-list marketers such as Lifestyle Lift, a surgical procedure for removing sagging chin skin, as well as several in-house promotions for products such as News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal.

With big-pocketed marketers such as Procter & Gable (PG) and Geico steering clear of the program, commercial breaks are left to the likes of The Villages, a Florida retirement community that earlier this month played host to Beck's book tour. Still, there may be some changes afoot: One ad, for the Zero Water Pitcher, was apparently placed by retailer Target Corp. (TGT),although the ad wasn't promoting Target itself, according to TiVo.

Scoff if you will, but advertisers like The Villages may just be the secret to Glenn Beck's continued strong standing at Fox News. The Villages not only represents small advertisers, but it also appeals to the common aging man -- two groups that remain extremely loyal to Beck. Evidently, that loyalty is enough for Fox. Plus, the big advertisers that fled Beck's show didn't run very far. They shifted their ad spending to other programs on the network, a company spokeswomantold DailyFinance. As a result, Fox News hasn't taken a revenue hit.

In fact, Fox News continues to shine in the ratings, and sister network Fox Broadcasting continues to roar. It's slated to win the November sweeps for the first time ever in its history. Fox News averaged 2.2 million prime time viewers for the season so far, surpassing CNN's average of roughly 930,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. And what's more, Beck's ratings have jumped since his ill-fated Fox & Friends appearance. According to Nielsen, Beck's show has drawn 2.6 million since July through mid-November, up from from 2.1 million for the first half of the year. During the fourth quarter so far, Beck has more than doubled his viewers in the 25 to 54 age group, while his total viewership has risen 78%. The show's demographic may be slightly older than the 18-to-49-year old crowd that most networks covet, but that slice of audience is what keeps advertisers like The Villages and Lifestyle Lift shelling out cash for airtime.

So don't feel bad for Glenn Beck and his continued abandonment by UPS Stores and Progressive Insurance. With friends like Goldline International and the "Ove" Glove, Beck's laughing all the way to the commercial break.
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