Fox Weather, Fox’s latest new channel — coming hot on the heels of general entertainment FAST channel Fox First Run — launched on Oct. 25, initially as a streaming TV network but will also run as a diginet in early 2022 across the country.
With Fox Weather coming from the same division as Fox News, it’s likely that, for some, this will influence consumer perceptions of the new service. VIP+ partnered with Maru Group, a leading consumer insights firm, to assess this.
Around one in four U.S. adults had already heard of Fox Weather within the first week of its launch, an impressive awareness figure for a new service. This will have been fueled by mentions across Fox properties, from NFL games on Fox to Fox News, and is the most cost efficient way to advertise a new offering.
Weather is becoming an important topic to Americans, with three out of four believing climate change is occurring and weather is becoming more severe.
A similar proportion agree that the extreme weather seen in 2021 has been much worse than in recent years. Taken together, this suggests most Americans see a change for the worse in the weather, implying that they put more importance on the reporting of it.
Close to half of U.S. adults believe that it is an ample time to launch a new TV weather channel given the climate change-fueled weather many are experiencing. With extreme weather events on the rise, there will be an increase in events seeing live coverage, meaning that the decision to launch a new weather channel by Fox is a savvy move.
A potential issue for Fox Weather is how it is perceived by some as being accurate in reporting climate change-fueled events. With Fox News’ prior coverage of climate change noted by many as being opinion based versus fact based — with this one of the reasons behind James Murdoch leaving the family empire in 2019 — there is danger of brand pollution impacting some of the potential audience for the nascent network.
This can be noted in consumer reactions to whether or not they trust Fox Weather to report climate change news accurately. Whilst overall there are more positive responses than negative — a good sign for Fox, as 6 out of 10 do trust Fox Weather — when comparing the “strongly” responses, distrust is more common than trust.
With close to one quarter saying they strongly distrust Fox Weather to report climate change accurately, it represents a hurdle that the brand will have to overcome in order to maximize viewership. The way to do so will be to heighten awareness of weather-reporting innovations like 3D radar and FutureView, as well as the absence of weather-based opinion commentary on the network, instead playing up the reporting on important issues such as COP26.
One probable reason behind the mistrust some have is the direct connection with Fox News. Around one in five said the link with Fox News will make climate change reporting more accurate, with the vast majority saying it won’t impact the reporting. But close to one third said the connection will make the climate change reporting less accurate.
The branding of Fox Weather appears to provide both opportunities and barriers to market. It’s likely that it will be an easy sell to viewers of Fox News, but the data suggests it may be difficult to attract other viewers given the stigma attached to the brand for some.
Considering the TV and streaming weather market already has a number of players, from the Weather Channel to AccuWeather to WeatherNation, that don’t have a preconceived market attitude around them, it may be hard to convert some to the channel.
One plus is the future distribution strategy, involving being available on SVOD (Fox Nation), AVOD and FAST (beginning with Tubi as well as a standalone website) and OTA antenna and cable distribution. The ease of access will help boost some viewership in weather emergencies, but the outlet should also take steps to distance itself from Fox News where possible to maximize audiences.