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WFXT Looks to Rebrand Amid Continued Struggles Under Cox Ownership

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A new report out from New England One suggests that WFXT in Boston is set to take drastic steps to revamp its on-air image amid continued struggles in the ratings following the acquisition of the FOX affiliate by Cox in 2014, including ditching longtime FOX 25 News branding.

 

What's the future of WFXT as a FOX affiliate? Can anything save the station from itself or from Cox's meddling?

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A new report out from New England One suggests that WFXT in Boston is set to take drastic steps to revamp its on-air image amid continued struggles in the ratings following the acquisition of the FOX affiliate by Cox in 2014, including ditching longtime FOX 25 News branding.

 

What's the future of WFXT as a FOX affiliate? Can anything save the station from itself or from Cox's meddling?

I don't know, but I will say that the report also said that one of the reasons for ditching the Fox 25 News branding is because its often associated with Fox News (quite rightfully so, considering that the station was owned by Fox before the trade deal happened), and a lot of people, including myself and Donald Trump, have a disdain for it.

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Mardek, what does Trump have to do with the a Fox station in Boston?!? Seriously, I'm just asking!

As far as WFXT canning "Fox 25 News", Fox execs might have something to say about it. I'm pretty sure that there has to be a clause in the affiliation agreement stating that WFXT must have "Fox" somewhere in the branding. Few do get away with it (WSVN, KTVU, etc.) but only because they're market leaders, which WFXT has never been, even under Fox ownership.

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"ACTION" 25 News? HAHAHAHA. Oh my god. That sounds like someone's bad mock-rebranding.

"ACTION NEWS Boston" on WXNE, Fox Boston

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How about

WFXT Channel 25 (for general branding) and Channel 25 News (newscast branding)

or if they really want to go the "call letters only" route:

WFXT (general) and WFXT News (newscasts)?

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They could take a page out of NexStar's playboom and try "LOCAL 25 News" with the website WeAreHarbor125Strong DOT com ... ;)

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Mardek, what does Trump have to do with the a Fox station in Boston?!? Seriously, I'm just asking!

As far as WFXT canning "Fox 25 News", Fox execs might have something to say about it. I'm pretty sure that there has to be a clause in the affiliation agreement stating that WFXT must have "Fox" somewhere in the branding. Few do get away with it (WSVN, KTVU, etc.) but only because they're market leaders, which WFXT has never been, even under Fox ownership.

WFXR in Richmond alternates between "WFXR FOX" and "WFXR News" as branding. WFXT might be best suited using that same tactic.

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One of the biggest mistakes that was made in the station swap was that Cox didn't bring KTVU's marketing director out to WFXT. Fox doesn't know how to market their stations, they have no gameplan. When was the last time you ever saw a good campaign from a Fox O&O?? KTVU had just hired back Steve Poitras who helped shape KTVU into the success it was in the 80s/90s. He understood Cox and had good relationships with the folks in Atlanta. He withered and died under Fox and Gregg Kelley's "leadership" and is now over at KRON. (And they are seeing some ratings gains whereas KTVU's ratings are down -- WAY down.)

 

The sudden format flip was a mistake. The logo was a mistake. The set change/tweak was kind of a huge waste of money.

 

I'm not even sure Lee Rosenthal was the right guy to bring with to WFXT. He was relatively new to KTVU and maybe didn't quite have a firm understanding of the success he inherited.

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As long as they remove the ugly FOX part, they're on a good start.

Plus some CW and MyTV stations removed the network's name from their station names to some success, so I think this idea could work for them.

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WFXR in Richmond alternates between "WFXR FOX" and "WFXR News" as branding. WFXT might be best suited using that same tactic.

 

WFXR is in Roanoke-Lynchburg.

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Guys guys, come on...

 

25 News.

 

It's a no brainer.

No, no! Boston 25 News. Because it worked so well with Cleveland 19 and Denver 7.:rolleyes:

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Well, whatever they decide to do, they better start getting their act together- WBTS is on the horizon and the market's crowded enough as it is.

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How much longer is the affiliation contract with Fox? Perhaps WHDH is going after a Fox affiliation?

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Yet the switch didn't hurt WHBQ in Memphis too much...this has to be a local issue more than anything.

 

If WHDH grabs the Fox affiliation, it is a downward spiral for sure.

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The WFXT affiliation with Fox doesn't end until June 2020, and is tied with WHBQ's.

 

The issue appears to be not that Cox is dissatisfied with Fox, but they made unnecessary changes which resulted in a strong #2 station falling down the ratings, since they didn't understand the market.

 

Also, I think the Lack of emphasis on being a Fox station is what helped KTVU. The Bay Area and Boston are somewhat alike politically, and while WE know their is a separation between Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, and their affiliates, but John Q. Public doesn't, and think Fox News is in control of newscasts produced by a Fox affiliate.

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The WFXT affiliation with Fox doesn't end until June 2020, and is tied with WHBQ's.

 

The issue appears to be not that Cox is dissatisfied with Fox, but they made unnecessary changes which resulted in a strong #2 station falling down the ratings, since they didn't understand the market.

 

Also, I think the Lack of emphasis on being a Fox station is what helped KTVU. The Bay Area and Boston are somewhat alike politically, and while WE know their is a separation between Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, and their affiliates, but John Q. Public doesn't, and think Fox News is in control of newscasts produced by a Fox affiliate.

Transferring some KTVU management over to WFXT didn't help. WHBQ appears to have retained most of their management and personnel, and with necessary investment coming in from Cox, they should be able to hold their own in that market.

 

Again, unless Cox is losing money with WFXT, I can't see them just giving up on the station. But they accidentally dug themselves a massive hole that will take a long time to get out of, and with NBC Boston's imminent arrival PLUS WHDH's local morning show replacing Today, it's only going to get even worse before it gets better.

 

Shedding the Fox 25 brand... for what? WFXT has ALWAYS been known as "Fox 25," even during Celtics ownership. KTVU got away with being "Channel 2" because of 50+ years of brand equity (you could say the same with WSVN; it was always "Channel 7" prior to the NBC disaffiliation, and has been "7" since the early 1990s).

 

I mean, you could get away with "WFXT Fox" and "WFXT News," but that's really the best possible way to go if a branding rebuild is needed. Something like "Channel 25 News" or "Boston 25" will be as badly received as their current abomination of a logo.

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Do any red state fox affiliates do well due to the association with FNC?

WJW has been the market leader in Cleveland since the late 1980s, outside of the 2-3 years following the 1994 affiliation switch.

 

Even though Fox sold off WJW eight years ago, they have no immediate plans to retire the 2006 O&O set, logo and music (to be fair, WJW always gets great mileage out of their news sets).

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I could see WFXT News as a brand.

 

It would suck, but I could see Action News integrating into that too.

 

I do think it will be increasingly necessary as we go forward in a Trump administration to shed the FOX brand, especially in a place like Boston.

 

What confounds me is not doing the wholesale change at once. Set, GFX, brand, everything.

 

I still think it's a myth that FOX 25 during FOX ownership was strong (or as strong as some here would like to believe). A lot of that time was buoyed by FOX primetime being so strong. That's not the case anymore and EVERY FOX station save for the strongest have suffered.

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Do any red state fox affiliates do well due to the association with FNC?
Fox 4 does quite well, especially recently, though not because of Fox News, its even been mentioned during at least a few newscasts that its separate from it (though Fox News does pull footage of its Fox affiliates for breaking news like car chases). In fact, the simpsons was quite popular in DFW back in the 90s, especially after the affiliation switch. The same can't be said of its sisters in Austin and Houston however. Fox 5 ATL is also a red state affiliate that does quite well, being #2 and sometimes #1 in the sweeps periods in, well, the ATL.

 

As for the blue states... There are at least a few examples where the Fox affiliates in those states are weak. Fox 32 being the most infamous. The "Fox News Chicago" branding sealed its fate to the point that its difficult to recover from all because it had a negative connotation in Chicagoland.

 

Actually, one of the main reasons for many Fox affiliates in the more extreme blue states (California, Massachusetts, etc.) being weak affiliates is because of how people associate Fox with Fox News, even though that isnt the case. In fact, if I didnt know any better, I would've thought WFXT was a part of Fox News. Which brings us back to the topic at hand. I think its a good idea that Cox dumps the Fox branding from their news coverage, except, Sinclair is more likely to be able to brand its Fox stations other than "Fox channel #" or "Fox city/region/state" than Cox will be because of their (Fox and Sinclair) good relations with each other. Its not that easy for them to brand their affiliate other than the Fox mandate and I dont know what solution I can bring to the table.

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Fox 4 does quite well, especially recently, though not because of Fox News, its even been mentioned during at least a few newscasts that its separate from it (though Fox News does pull footage of its Fox affiliates for breaking news like car chases). In fact, the simpsons was quite popular in DFW back in the 90s, especially after the affiliation switch. The same can't be said of its sisters in Austin and Houston however. Fox 5 ATL is also a red state affiliate that does quite well, being #2 and sometimes #1 in the sweeps periods in, well, the ATL.

 

As for the blue states... There are at least a few examples where the Fox affiliates in those states are weak. Fox 32 being the most infamous. The "Fox News Chicago" branding sealed its fate to the point that its difficult to recover from all because it had a negative connotation in Chicagoland.

 

could it also be the old UHF stigma while many of those leading Fox stations are legacy VHF stations? has the FNC association hurt KTUV or do these stations just don't watch the voicemail and inboxes being filled with complains about FNC?

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