(Bloomberg) — Tucker Carlson, one of the most popular Fox News prime-time hosts, was worth more than $500 million to the parent company. At least that is what trading in the stock indicates.
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Class A shares of Fox Corp. sank as much as 5.4% Monday, before trimming losses to 2.9%, after the company said Carlson had left with immediate effect. The departure comes just days after the network agreed to pay $787 million to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems Inc.
“Fox Cable News is now in rebuilding mode, and it will likely take time for the stock to recover,” said KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brandon Nispel. “We wonder what Fox is going to tell advertisers and how it will fill the gap in terms of programming and viewership.”
Fox News Media held its annual upfront presentation for advertisers in March. At the time, Fox executives said the Dominion suit had not affected the network’s business.
Excluding sports, Tucker Carlson Tonight is the top rated prime-time show on cable TV, according to the most recent Nielsen ratings, with a nightly audience that at times exceeded 3.7 million viewers. That said, the channel is likely to regain the majority of its overall viewership once a replacement host is announced, Nispel said.
As speculation over Carlson’s next landing spot spread, investors snapped up shares of Rumble Inc., the Peter Thiel-backed conservative video network, and Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special-purpose acquisition company merging with Trump Media. Both stocks erased declines, with Rumble stock rallying 6%, while Digital World gained 2.9%.
Carlson’s exit is “definitely going to leave a mark on Fox,” said Matthew Tuttle, CEO and CIO of Tuttle Capital Management, who bought shares of Rumble.
(Updates share price move, adds details on Fox New upfront presentation)
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