The recent wave of standalone subscription services has, so far, been mostly guided by the popularity of scripted programming, with sports also drawing some attention from streaming audiences. And now, Fox News is drawing on its unwavering popularity in order to develop an exclusive streaming service that its customers will be able to use without having a cable or satellite package. It's name, perhaps unsurprisingly, will be Fox Nation.
Currently in development, Fox Nation is being planned for a consumer rollout by the end of 2018, and while lots of details are still being worked out, one Fox News exec has laid out the general gist of what the streaming service will offer. John Finley, who oversees development and production on Fox News programming, explained to the New York Times that the new service is for the "Fox superfan" that thrives on hours of the network's shows every night. And don't expect for the same old shows to get rehashed, either.
In fact, contractual obligations with cable companies will actually keep Fox Nation from airing any reruns of its linear TV programs. As such, the network is looking into starting up a host of new shows with a batch of new analysts, anchors and political commentators. It does appear that Fox News mainstays like Sean Hannity will make appearances, though it's not clear in what capacity.
At least initially, Fox Nation isn't expected to feature traditional advertising, with Fox News' billion-strong profits guiding the financial side of the startup. That makes a certain amount of sense, considering the network's viewer demographic tends to skew older than the key 18-49 age demo that advertisers hold dear; the median viewer is 65 years old, according to the latest figures.
In that age group lies perhaps the biggest potential obstacle in Fox Nation's path. Fox News dominated the cable news circuit in 2017, and has done so for years, but a healthy TV viewership doesn't automatically equal a healthy web presence. Older folks don't tend to frequent online haunts as often as younger generations, though Fox News is hoping that its popularity with older age groups on Facebook and other social media sites will help to draw potential subscribers.
Working in Fox News' favor is the fact that no other cable media giants have their own standalone services, which should give Fox Nation wider recognition. CNN has CNNgo, which only puts out a limited amount of free original programming, with everything else held behind a subscription paywall. That network's Great Big Story brand is also being considered for a net-based offshoot, but nothing much has happened there since the initial announcement. Meanwhile, MSNBC has yet to deliver a standalone web service of any kind.
Does this plan have anything to do with Disney's expected network takeover (which doesn't include Fox News) and its impending streaming service? How will Fox Nation do when compared to Bill O'Reilly's struggling follow-up? It'll be interesting to see what further details are revealed as the service gets sorted out. While there aren't any specific dates for when Fox Nation will be fully available for its superfans to indulge in, we can probably expect to see it go live before 2019 gets here.
Until then, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that'll pop up on the small screen soon.