Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch on Tom Brady, Hollywood Covid Protocols, SVOD – Deadline

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch says seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady will be more than a Sunday night analyst for Fox Sports, but a partner after signing a deal worth $375 million over ten years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback.

“The big thing with Tom, what really engaged and excited me about this opportunity is that in addition to being a senior analyst on Sundays, he will be our sports partner. An ambassador for Fox. Working with advertisers and customers. Committed to marketing. He’ll be a terrific analyst and a partner of ours,” Murdoch said during a lengthy question-and-answer period at MoffettNathanson’s press conference. (Fox disputed the price of Brady, which was reported in his own New York Post, saying it’s “not an accurate reflection of the deal”.)

Brady starts each time he retires. In remarks during Fox’s initial pitch on Monday, he gave a strong hint, saying he was looking forward to joining Team Fox for Super Bowl 57.

Murdoch also indicated he would like less restrictive Covid protocols for production, which he said was behind a $30 million writedown on scripted programming that slashed last quarter earnings as Covid production was delaying. “It was a cautious write-down, but related to Covid-delayed production schedules. I should say that we are operating with Covid protocols designed at the height of the pandemic, before vaccinations, with potentially stronger strains of Covid-19. They were absolutely the right protocols to put in place. But we still work with them now and it causes huge disruption when someone gets sick.

“I hope that will change,” he said.

In the changing landscape of streaming, the owner of ad-supported Tubi is “happily out to watch this bloodbath in the SVOD market.”

Netflix lost subscribers last quarter and said it was preparing to launch an ad-supported offering, following news that Disney would do the same. Murdoch thinks Fox is already ahead of the game because “we haven’t had to artificially maintain a loss-making SVOD service.” When asked if he was concerned about increased competition for streaming ad dollars, he said no, because “we don’t confuse consumer messaging with different tiers.”

Moving on to the Fox News juggernaut, Murdoch was asked if the network sees ‘advertiser reluctance due to some of the prime time content’ – a veiled reference to controversial hosts led by the biggest audience draw of the network, Tucker Carlson. Murdoch noted that the ad has grown but focused on rebranding for Fox News Media a few years ago – which includes Fox Digital, an audio/podcast company, a newly launched book company and Fox Weather – all producing new revenue streams.

“We’re not just in the news business,” he said. “And when you talk to our fans in Central America, people who are heavy viewers of Fox News, they don’t see us as a news company either, they see us as an American media brand.” He didn’t mention Carlson — Fox executives rarely do that publicly — but yelled at Jesse Watters, The five and Greg Gutfeld (Gutfeld!).

As initial pitches continue this week, he touted Fox’s lineup in sports with Super Bowl LVII and the FIFA World Cup and NFL. Advertising will also get a big boost following the midterm elections which are expected to set a spending record.

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