Fox Corp. COO Outlines "Contrarian" Approach on Streaming

Fox Corp.
Fox Corp. COO John Nallen

"I'm still a believer — and I'm not a Luddite on it — that the bundle is still the way American consumers are going to receive television," John Nallen said.

Fox Corp. COO John Nallen on Wednesday touted Fox News Channel's ratings during all White House administrations and news cycles.

"Fox News has been the No. 1 news channel for 17 years. ... It withstands the ups and downs of administrations, of news, of who is in and who is out," he told the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference in New York City.

The Fox exec conceded rivals CNN and MSNBC had seen their audiences rise as Donald Trump has dominated the cable news cycle since 2016. "But Fox News has maintained its No. 1 position, regardless of the news cycle and regardless of the administration," Nallen said. 

Nallen's comments echo Fox Corp. chief Lachlan Murdoch's comments on Tuesday at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York. "You generally do better in opposition ... than you do in alignment or agreement with the government," Murdoch said. "In fact, if you look at the ratings, it's our competitors who have done relatively better under the Trump administration. I think the main beneficiary is MSNBC."

Nallen also said he remained a "contrarian" when it came to going direct-to-consumer with streaming platforms, even as rivals like Walt Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast make a dash to online platforms. "I'm still a believer — and I'm not a Luddite on it — that the bundle is still the way American consumers are going to receive television," he said. 

The cable bundle is evolving with virtual MVPDs like Dish's SlingTV, Hulu Live and YouTube TV, "but a bundle of product is what drives consumption up," Nallen added. He insisted there were no plans for Fox Corp. to create a bundled streaming offering of its main platforms, which include the Fox broadcasting network, Fox News and Fox Sports.

New Fox is essentially the 21st Century Fox assets not acquired by Walt Disney and rebranded as Fox, with Rupert Murdoch's son Lachlan Murdoch running the company as CEO. Nallen did predict that Fox would eventually rely on Hulu Live or YouTube TV to become a major distributor of its content, displacing traditional distributors.

"You're not going to see us put money behind offering a direct-to-consumer of our channels. But we have a lot of other places to play digital," he said.