At least 20 advertisers have withdrawn support from Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” after Saturday’s explosive New York Times exposé that revealed $13 million has been spent on sexual harassment settlements involving host Bill O’Reilly.
Lexus, Credit Karma, Bayer, TrueCar, Wayfair, Orkin, Society for Human Resources Management, CFP Board and Coldwell Banker are the latest sponsors to distance themselves from O’Reilly, according to CNNMoney.
Four automakers, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Mitsubishi had already pulled their ads from the show along with pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Consumer Care, Allstate, and T. Rowe Price, Untuckit, Constant Contact and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, according to NBC News.
Paul Rittenberg, EVP of Advertising Sales at FOX News, said in a statement obtained by TheWrap on Tuesday, “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
Research firm Kantar Media told NBC News that “The O’Reilly Factor” made $446 million on advertising from 2014 to 2016. O’Reilly, the most-watched personality in cable news, has denied all claims.
“I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline,” O’Reilly responded in a statement.
While advertisers back away, viewers are staying put. On Monday night, “Factor” was the most-watched show among all of cable news, averaging 3.7 million total viewers and 645,000 among the ad-friendly demographic of adults age 25-54. O’Reilly was up 24 percent compared to the same day last year and nine percent compared to last Monday. Last night’s episode, the first one since the Times story broke, even beat ABC’s “Quantico” and Fox broadcast’s “24 Legacy” in total viewers.
And as 20 advertisers have backed away from the show so far, it wouldn’t be shocking to see other big-name brands stick with O’Reilly as long as his show draws large audiences. In fact, Angie’s List has already decided to keep advertising on the “Factor.”
“The advertising strategy we have long used at Angie’s List is meant to reach as many people as possible with news that our service exists and is available to them. We place ads across a wide spectrum of venues intending to reach as many viewers/listeners/ readers as possible without taking a position on the viewpoints of the venues themselves. Just as we trust members to make their own hiring decisions, we trust them to make their own media consumption decisions,” the company said in a statement.