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Fox News Facing Uncertain Future In The Post-Ailes Era

Fox News Facing Uncertain Future In The Post-Ailes Era - 21st Century Fox NASDAQ:FOXA, Time Warner Inc. NYSE:TWX

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is reportedly leaving the company amid a slew of sexual harassment charges, and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc FOX 0.29% FOXA 0.67% investors are left wondering what the wildly successful network’s future will look like in the post-Ailes era.

According to the latest data from Pew Research, Fox News is by far the most profitable cable news network, delivering $1.5 billion in profits for its parent company in 2015.

Pew estimates that rival network CNN generated only $381 million in 2015 profits for parent Time Warner Inc TWX 0.15%, while MSNBC made $227 million for parent Comcast Corporation CMCSA 0.15%.

The biggest problem facing the network following Ailes departure is the risk that some of its biggest on-screen names will follow suit. Network stars Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly are only under contract through the end of 2017. Kelly was among the employees that levied harassment complaints against Ailes.

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BreitbartNews has reported that several Fox broadcasters, including Kelly, are considering launching their own rival network.

In addition to a possible exodus of top talent, Ailes successor will have to deal with another growing problem with Fox News: bridging the age gap. While all cable news networks have an older audience base, Fox’s is the oldest. The median age of Fox News viewers is 65.

If there’s one thing the stock market doesn’t like, it’s uncertainty. Fox News currently generates roughly 20 percent of its parent company’s total income. Twenty-First Century Fox’s shares are down 19.6 percent in the past year.

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Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.

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