Laura Ingraham Boycott: After a Year, Ratings Are Up But Ad Time Is Still Way Down

The Fox News host’s tweet about Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg still haunts her

david hogg laura ingraham
Getty Images

In the one year since Parkland high school shooting survivor David Hogg launched an advertiser boycott against Laura Ingraham, the Fox News primetime host has gained 100,000 more nightly viewers, a 4 percent increase. But despite the many efforts of both the network and it star, she has recovered only about 60 percent of the number of advertisers she lost.

Over the last year, “The Ingraham Angle” has averaged 2.565 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen data, an increase from the 2.456 million viewers she averaged from her show’s debut in October 2017 until April 1, 2018. Her performance in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 year-old demographic remained virtually static, declining slightly from 493,000 average nightly viewers to 488,000.

Ingraham has consistently maintained her spot atop cable news ratings, with her most recent numbers only widening her lead over her timeslot rivals, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and CNN’s Don Lemon — who placed in a distant third both overall and in the key news demo.

Monetizing all those new viewers has been more of a challenge. Last December, Fox Corporation president of ad sales Marianne Gambelli told TheWrap that she expected Ingraham’s show “to return to a regular load next cycle.” But the network’s campaign to win back lost sponsors — or attract new ones — appears to be taking longer than expected.

Ingraham, who had approximately 15 minutes of commercial time per show before the boycott, averaged just 10 and a half minutes of ads for the first quarter of this year, according to data from Kantar Media. The company also found that the show drew 40 percent fewer advertisers last month than it did in February 2018, with a marked shift this year toward direct-response advertising like the 1-800-number-laden spots for smaller brands like MyPillow.

It’s still an improvement from the height of the furor last April, when “The Ingraham Angle” averaged between six and seven minutes as dozens of major national sponsors like Hulu Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual, Wayfair, and Bayer jumped ship.

“‘The Ingraham Angle’ has seen a steady increase in advertisers and as predicted, we are nearing a full commercial load,” Gambelli told TheWrap on Thursday. “The program’s loyal audience and stellar ratings speak for themselves and we continue to welcome more advertisers to the show.”

The Ingraham boycott began on the evening of March 28, 2018 after the Fox News host publicly taunted David Hogg after the Parkland shooting survivor was rejected from a number of universities to which he had applied.

“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.),” Ingraham jeered via Twitter.

The criticism that followed was swift and intense, with many of Ingraham’s media colleagues saying the jab was unseemly given his experience surviving a massacre just weeks before.

The sharpest knives as it turned out, however, came from Hogg himself — the budding gun-reform advocate responded by listing a dozen Ingraham advertisers and urging his followers to withdraw their support from sponsors of the show. Nine of the original 12 sponsors swiftly issued public statements dropping ties to the program.

“Within seven to 10 days, a majority of the advertisers who had run spots in her program in the week prior to her Parkland comment disappeared from her program,” Jon Swallen, the chief research officer of Kantar Media Insights division, told TheWrap. “Some advertisers released public statements linking their withdrawal to her remarks. A larger number just quietly slipped away without comment. A year later, almost none of these advertisers have resumed advertising on Ingraham’s program.”

Ingraham also helped fuel the boycott alone with additional unforced errors — as with an on-air commentary last June when she said detention centers for refugee applicants to the United States were “like summer camp,” resulting in the loss of additional sponsors such as HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List that she initially had retained.

Hogg did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story, but fellow Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky said that he endorsed his former classmate’s strategy of targeting Ingraham.

“People have a First Amendment right to make their voice heard if they want Laura Ingraham to stop her nonsense,” Kasky told TheWrap. “I don’t like Laura Ingraham’s rhetoric and her piece on David was a pathetic attempt at ‘journalism.’ It’s very disappointing how many people watch her show and see that nonsense.”

Asked about the ongoing campaign against sponsors of Ingraham (as well as fellow primetime host Tucker Carlson), a Fox News rep directed TheWrap to an earlier statement on the matter: “We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts.”

Reps for Ingraham declined to add anything more and directed TheWrap to an apology she offered Hogg the day after her remarks.

“I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland,” she said. “For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy. As always, he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.”