Fox News is taking a membership approach to its new subscription video product, Fox Nation.
Launched in late November, Fox Nation offers a wide slate of daily, weekly and monthly video programming hosted by conservative personalities such as Tomi Lahren, Sean Hannity and Britt McHenry. This includes regularly scheduled shows such as Lahren’s “First Thoughts” airing every morning at 9:30 a.m. and “Deep Dive” at noon, which features a rotating selection of Fox News hosts and contributors. Fox Nation in total has hundreds of pieces of content, including on-demand audio streams of Fox News shows made available 30 minutes after they have aired on TV.
But in addition to the video and audio programming, Fox News is adding membership elements to the subscription service, which is priced at $5.99 per month or $64.99 per year. This includes physical tie-ins such as discounts on merchandise and access to live events and other in-person experiences hosted by the company, said John Fiedler, svp of digital for Fox News.
“The content is a fundamental aspect of what Fox Nation will be,” said Fiedler. “But we’re also thinking more broadly about how this can ultimately be a fan club for Fox News super fans. A subscription service that’s basically a transaction for content is very vanilla.”
The membership approach included a pre-launch sale initiative that Fox News called the Fox Nation Founders Program, which offered branded merchandise such as a hat, watch and rocks glasses in exchange for signing up for the service at different tiers. Fiedler declined to state how many people signed up for Fox Nation prior to launch, but said the company has been pleased with the progress so far. Fiedler also declined to share how many subscribers Fox Nation is targeting in its first year.
The focus on building a direct relationship with subscribers is why Fiedler also said Fox News will take a measured approach with how the company seeks third-party distribution. He did not rule out third-party distributors such as Amazon Prime Video Channels, but initially, Fox Nation is being sold directly by Fox News across web, mobile, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. (An app for Roku is coming soon.)
“The business terms of a relationship [with third-party distributors] need to make sense,” Fiedler said. “You hear a lot of buzz in the industry about the scale that the platforms can provide — and it’s absolutely true that platforms have large audiences. But so does Fox News. We are in a strong position to sell this directly. I think owning that customer relationship and having the ability to identify users — which you often can’t do on other platforms — is important.”
Fox Nation will also remain ad-free for now, though Fox News is not ruling out having some sort of ad component to the product down the road, Fiedler said.
Going direct-to-consumer has become a top priority across the TV industry. In 2019, both Disney and WarnerMedia will launch big subscription streaming services; ESPN has already launched its own direct-to-consumer product. In news, the OTT market includes legacy brands such as CBS News with CBSN and ABC with ABC News Live, as well as digital upstarts such as Cheddar and Newsy. All four of those streaming services are available for free.
With Fox Nation, Fox News also hopes to accomplish in getting people to pay for news programming — something for which it will compete with another conservative streaming programmer, Blaze Media.
“The OTT space is challenging in general,” Fiedler said. “If we’re asking for people to pay us, the messaging needs to be really clear in terms of the value proposition of the service.”
An earlier version of this article said a Fox Nation app for Amazon Fire TV will be coming soon. It’s available now.