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  • Writer's pictureTGW

Identity Crisis

Love them or hate them, FoxNews was the #1 television news channel for a while now. Recent numbers show however, that they're now ranked #3 in a category that really doesn't have too many competitors. And while it's easy to blame or ridicule their recent drop in rankings, it's actually a great opportunity to relate this to branding. To the question of identity.

Oscar Wilde is quoted to have said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Even on a personal level, this is difficult for many people. But when it comes to a brand, the question of identity is more difficult, because it is more fluid; you can proactively modify and change a brand's identity.

The brand identity for FoxNews for a long time was essentially, trusted conservative news source. And that worked for them. If you look at the field, it also makes sense why they held the number 1 position for so long. As far as TV news channels go, there were really only 3 options. The other two big players in the industry are CNN and MSNBC, both of which are left leaning. Which means that anyone that wanted a less liberal perspective would be turning to FoxNews as a trusted news source.

That the competition essentially splits the left, it makes sense that FoxNews takes the number 1 spot. But they've recently dropped to number 3. This tells me, that while they're still a big player, they're losing viewers. And it tells me that they're not just losing views on the left, but they're also losing viewers on the right as well. After the storming of the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021, they've distanced themselves from Donald Trump a little, changing their tune regarding election fraud, and condemning the riotous mob that overpowered the police guarding the building. In light of Lou Dobbs getting sued, FoxNews has fired the longtime news personality. It is likely then, that staunch "Trumpians" have also decided to leave the channel for other viewers with previously fringe players like Newsmax and OANN.

This leaves FoxNews in a bit of a fork in the road. An identity crisis for their brand. While it presents an opportunity for them here to shift more towards the mainstream (move to the centre, or even to the left), they could also slide further to the right to try consolidating the right. Regardless of which direction they take, there is a risk; if they move closer to the centre, they could push more viewers towards Newsmax and OANN, giving them a larger position in a previously 3 horse race. But if they move further to the right and try to reacquire those with stauncher views, they risk marginalising themselves with those lurking in the shadows.

They've let Lou Dobbs go in fear of being sued, but they've kept Sean Hannity. Their rhetoric lately look like they're making a shift further to the right again. But if companies keep suing and they start losing advertisers, will they also let Hannity go? I think THAT will be telling.


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