Category: FBN

Shepard’s Strange Disclaimer

In his rush to separate himself from Judge Andrew Napolitano (a frequent guest on his program, at least up until today) Shepard Smith made an odd claim about the Judge’s theory that British spymasters surveilled Trump Tower at Obama’s request:

SHEPARD SMITH: We’ve not reported on that on this program or any Fox News programs. It was on the morning show but not on Fox News.

The Cable Gamer has a couple of problems with this statement. When Judge Napolitano advanced this notion on Fox & Friends Smith claims he was “not on Fox News.” Where was he then, on HGTV? Fox News has bragged for years that their morning program Fox & Friends is #1 in all cable news, yet here is FNC’s primary news anchor pretending like they’re on some other channel.

SMITH: We’ve not reporting on that on this program or any Fox News programs. It was on the morning show but not on Fox News.

Assuming that Shep will allow that hours other than just 3:00 pm Eastern are Fox News, then what is The First 100 Days, anchored by Martha MacCallum, one of FNC’s designated two top political news anchors? Yes, Judge Napolitano discussed what his sources told him there too:

Your Cable Gamer wonders what is going on with Shepard Smith. Is he just vamping, ad-libbing whatever pops into his head? Or is this all in the teleprompter–which might be even worse, given that it appears to have been written by person or persons who don’t have a clue what airs on their own news channel?


‘Tis the Season to Be Fox

Fox News (and Fox Business) have sent out some interesting Christmas cards over the years. The Cable Gamer recalls the tut-tutting that would ensue when the cards took veiled (or not so veiled) shots at rival networks.

But not this year. The 2015 cards are simple, straightforward, and dignified. No making fun of the competition this time. The Fox Business card:


Inside the text is simple and, dare we say it, businesslike:

Warmest thoughts for a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

The greetings from Fox News Channel are cut from the same cloth:


The message inside is almost identical:

Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

The Cable Gamer wonders if FNC, with its competitors either struggling (CNN) or in disarray (MSNBC), sees no need to “pile on” with a smart-aleck card, especially during the Christmas season. In other words, they’re taking a victory lap by not taking a victory lap. That’s how secure their position is at the top of the cable news heap.

It should be noted that for all the mentions of “seasons greetings” and “wonderful holidays,” there is not a single “Merry Christmas” to be seen. Some will chortle at that, but The Cable Gamer doesn’t understand why. Do the scoffers really think that corporate should dictate content to the journalists and commentators of Fox News? That everyone should sing the same song, from the same sheet of music? If so, they’re watching too much MSNBC.

In the spirit of Fox’s kinder, gentler cards, The Cable Gamer offers her best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday…the holiday of your choice.

And have a Merry Christmas.

Face-Off: The Cable Game vs. Inside Cable News

“Spud” at Inside Cable News is a savvy Cable Gamer, so I noticed when he took issue with my pessimistic thoughts on Legends & Lies. Spud’s view:

I think it will do better than Inheritance. Everyone know that show was a big hit for FBN but what they fail to understand is that FBN’s ratings are anemic compared to FNC’s so it wouldn’t take much to turn Inheritance into a hit in the first place. You put Inheritance on FNC with those numbers and in my view it’s an open question whether it gets renewed for a second season.

Legends and Lies will have a bigger installed viewership to take advantage of, especially considering who is pushing it. You put O’Reilly’s name behind this and it would take a failure of colossal magnitude for this show not to do as well if not better than Inheritance did.

First let’s review how Strange Inheritance has been performing on FNC weekends:

  • 4/11 632,000 / 72,000 (25-54)
  • 4/4 833,000 / 138,000
  • 3/28 919,000 / 147,000
  • 3/21 862,000 / 129,000
  • 3/14 1,112,000 / 189,000

Variety reports that the premiere of Legends & Lies gave a nice boost to FNC’s anemic Sunday night schedule:

While FNC dominates on the ratings front during the week, it hasn’t been as strong on the weekends, but this gave it a nice boost. Compared to its timeslot average year-to-date, “Legends & Lies” lifted the network by 60% in total viewers and 24% in adults 25-54.

And TV By the Numbers adds:

FOX News Channel’s new historical series Legends & Lies: The Real West was the most-watched cable news program on Sunday, delivering 1.022 million total viewers from 8-10PM.

But it’s the “news demo” (25-54) that matters and there Legends & Lies couldn’t overcome MSNBC’s Prisoners’ Block:

  • Legends & Lies 8:00 pm 103,000
  • Caught on Camera 8:00 pm 139,000
  • Legends & Lies 9:00 pm 143,000
  • LockUp 9:00 pm 155,000

L&L‘s total viewers are better overall than Inheritance, but the demo doesn’t hold up as well. So there are points on both sides of the argument. But let’s face it—it’s too soon to tell. You can’t judge a program’s staying power from who tunes in on premiere night. The test is how many will come back the following week, and the week after that. Then we’ll know whether Roger Ailes rolled a natural…or snake eyes.


Strange but True


When Mike Huckabee left Fox News to make another run for President, it left FNC with a big hole to fill on Saturday nights. Replaying the previous night’s O’Reilly Factor was the emergency move, but then they tried something different. Jamie Colby’s Strange Inheritance, bizarre but true tales of wills, bequests, and their unpredictable after-effects, made something of a splash on Fox Business, so they plugged a pair of episodes into the Huckabee slot. It’s a departure for FNC, but an established template for story-telling–think Jack Palance and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or go back half a century to The Millionaire. Watch a few minutes and chances are you won’t change the channel until you see how it all comes out.

Today will mark three Saturdays in a row with Strange Inheritance on FNC, and for good reason. The show is meeting or exceeding Huckabee‘s ratings, and out-performing its competitors. And each airing is a half-hour promotion for the nightly first-run showings on FBN. It’s a win-win for all–especially for Jamie Colby, a smart, tireless newsperson whose hard work and perseverance made Strange Inheritance possible. Her success is well-deserved.

Breaking News Changes Everything: Events in Copenhagen Saturday night caused most of FNC’s 8:00 pm hour to be pre-empted for live coverage. But Fox News Channel will air Strange Inheritance tonight (Sunday) at 8:00 pm.