Fox News is planning to launch a paid video streaming service later this year, the company announced today. Actually, Fox News describes it as an “over-the-top opinion platform” called Fox Nation. The popular network is being careful not to advertise this as a live stream of Fox News Channel — because it’s very much not that.
Fox Nation won’t feature current FNC programming. It won’t even have reruns, according to The New York Times. The platform “will take a deep dive into the big issues of the day with live exclusive daily streaming content and long-form programming available only to subscribers,” says the company. Users will also be able to stream “exclusive events” and over 20 years worth of archival Fox News Channel content “not available anywhere else.” The network’s “popular opinion hosts and personalities” will appear on the service; Fox News Channel is still deciding on how much to charge, but plans to implement interactive features like polls and Q&A sessions.
Again, notice the emphasis on opinion there. Fox News is creating a second destination for viewers who can’t get enough of the network’s conservative-leaning slant. It also seems questionable to me whether news-focused anchors like Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith will appear on this platform. Think more along the lines of Fox & Friends and Hannity.
“We are proud to announce a new digital offering geared entirely toward the FOX News superfans, who represent the most loyal audience in cable, if not all of television,” said John Finley, the network’s senior VP of development and production. “This initiative will capitalize on providing that viewer, who is among the most affluent and well educated in cable, with a highly specialized content experience on a platform they can watch anytime, anywhere.”
But they won’t get the core Fox News Channel itself! Similar to ESPN, which is launching an “ESPN Plus” subscription service this year that won’t include its banner cable network, Fox News Channel remains beholden to its contractual agreements with cable and satellite providers. Those deals still bring back far too much money to shake up the model. Fox News Channel appears on numerous internet TV services with the main exception of Dish’s Sling TV, so it’s certainly possible to get the network’s live programming without a traditional cable package. Other TV networks such as CBS have included their main live programming as part of a subscription that’s separate from cable.
The launch of a “standalone opinion streaming service” (again, Fox News Channel’s words) is something that competitors like CNN and MSNBC haven’t done to this point. Both still require cable/satellite/internet TV login authentication to stream much of their live content and haven’t experimented much with a separate, over-the-top service.
Fox News is not included in Disney’s blockbuster purchase that covers most of 21st Century Fox assets such as film and TV studios. Instead, it will remain part of a much slimmer 21st Century Fox after the pending deal closes.