It’s no secret that the coronavirus has led to booming business for the media. Especially after impeachment waned. And the media is cashing in. And FOX News is drawing a good contrast here with MSNBC, CNN, and others still committing to cashing in.
While CNN and MSNBC offer full online viewing via sign-in through a cable provider, Fox Corp. properties will be made available free.
Amid cord-cutting as well as a coronavirus pandemic that is changing viewer consumption, Fox Corp. is taking a temporary step away from the cable bundle and making its television properties freely available to stream.
Fox News will now become available to stream without paying for cable, the company said Wednesday. The move was described as a partnership with Fox’s pay TV providers.
Cable news channels like CNN and MSNBC are available to view online with a cable provider sign-in (both offer 10-minute previews of live coverage before asking for a sign-in). CNN dropped its cable authentication for a coronavirus town hall on March 13 and plans on doing the same for a follow-up event on March 19, but the channel isn’t planning on making its full feed available for free.
“Our highest duty as a company is to provide the individuals and communities we serve with information and analysis to help educate and protect them during dangerous times,” Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. “That is why we are today making Fox News and Fox Television stations available to everyone in the country.”
The move from Fox arrives one day after the slimmed-down conglomerate acquired the free, ad-supported streaming service Tubi for $440 million. The streamer offers 20,000 film and TV titles, including from studios like Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM.
I don’t know how the Tubi acquisition makes much sense considering that FOX sold off its entertainment properties to Disney, and Tubi is largely notorious for having a great library that it hasn’t figured out how to effectively utilize, but this would suggest that, like everyone else, FOX is trying to build its own Netflix on a budget setup. That’s less relevant than the larger message here.
Cable networks are wired, pun intended, to protect and defend the monopoly. But that monopoly becomes less relevant every day.
While entertainment segments, notably HBO, have been more overt in breaking from the model, if any news network has the reach to be viable beyond the cable model, it’s FOX News.
(Obligatory criticism, yes FOX News is not all that conservative even in front of the camera, much less so behind it. It’s still a whole lot better than CNN or MSNBC. And its very existence creates room for accountability. And I’m not too sure 2016 would have gone the way it did without it.)