Fox Business Host Trish Regan: 3 Lessons for Big Media Amid Market Upheaval

“As long as the media companies are able to keep turning out hits, people will keep coming back,” The Fox Biz host tells TheWrap

Trish Regan

Trish Regan’s “The Intelligence Report” on Fox Business has been on a roll, posting its highest-rated month ever in January and helping to boost FBN as the fastest growing cable network on television last year.

“I love being here and we’ve had tremendous success on the show and it’s something I’m very excited about,” Regan told TheWrap.

Regan, who has been described by industry execs as a “rising star” at the network, also co-moderated FBN’s two “undercard” GOP presidential debates. The most recent pulled in 2 million total viewers, making it one of the network’s top programs ever. Regan and Sandra Smith even made history being the first all-female moderators for a presidential debate.

“We are very proud and very honored to be the first,” Regan said. “It’s wonderful to see so many woman in this process. Women have come so far in a relatively short amount of time.”

We caught up with Regan to pick her brain about three issues that are important for Hollywood investors in a turbulent market.

1. Content is King
Regan said we shouldn’t forget that “content is really what is driving” revenues in the media space. The question is often finding the best medium for that content — hence the widespread concern over so-called cord-cutters.

“People cutting back on their cable subscriptions puts the media industry in a more challenging position,” Regan said. “It’s different with news, sports and live events but you do not need to see ‘Mad Men’ the day it comes out. You can watch that any other time.”

Luckily for Hollywood, Regan said, “typically during economic downturns, the movie industry holds up surprisingly well.”

“You think back to the 1930s and the recession, you would think people didn’t have any money so the movies would have been disastrous. But actually, that was something that people spent money on because it was some escapism,” Regan said. “Then again, in 2008, people still went to the movies and a lot of the media companies fared absolutely fine.”

Regan believes that movies will continue to drive consumer entertainment spending despite the “anemic economic environment” that has people careful with their budgets.

“As long as the media companies are able to keep turning out hits, people will keep coming back,” Regan said. “It’s just that the models are changing.”

2. What’s up with Viacom?
Regan noted that Viacom specifically is under a lot of pressure after its recent “less than stellar” earnings report and all of the behind-the-scenes drama over Sumner Redstone and activist investors like the hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management.

“We do not know how bug the stake is, but SpringOwl have an undisclosed stake in the company and they’re saying, ‘Look, we don’t like [Philippe Dauman] as the appointed executive chairman,’” Regan said. “They want someone new in charge.”

Regan also points to the “overall economic climate” as a large reason for Viacom’s recent struggles.

3. So what about Disney?
Disney “has a lot going for it” with ESPN, Regan said, since the cable sports network is a powerhouse because “live matters and sports are live.”

“[ESPN] will continue to be a real cash cow for the future,” Regan said, largely dismissing concerns about recent subscriber losses at the network. “Nonetheless, the media stocks in general have sort of all come under a cloud. Even though ESPN added subscribers recently, they’re also sort of being cast in this overall concern.”

While media companies remain “the the darlings of the market,” Regan said, but over the last six to 12 months investors have started taking a hard look at the underlying balance sheets to determine which conglomerates might be overvalued.

She noted the impact that the box office of a single blockbuster can have an effect on share prices. “A lot of these companies really live and die by some of these movies,” Regan said, adding that even Disney has had its share of flops like “John Carter” as well as outsize hits like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”