Fox News has never shied away from controversy with its on-air talent — but the network’s newest hire has surprised even media experts.
Former CNN mainstay Nancy Grace is signing up for a show on Fox Nation, and experts say it means big changes are coming to the network in January 2020.
Cameras will show her delivering her podcast and SiriusXM radio show, “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace,” five days a week.
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Grace has been subject to numerous controversies and lawsuits over her aggressive style. Late New York Times columnist David Carr wrote in 2011 that, “the presumption of innocence has found a willful enemy in the former prosecutor turned broadcast judge-and-jury.”
Her new program is modeled after that same popular television series that ran on the Headline News (HLN) network for many years. It’s an illustration of how Fox Nation has evolved counter to expectations one year into operation.
“We spotlight breaking crime and justice news, help find missing people, especially children, solve unsolved homicides and analyze clues left behind,” Grace said.
Fox Nation, the streaming service available for $65 a year, will begin offering “Crime Stories” in January.
That’s not the only recent hire shaking up Fox Nation’s offerings.
The on-demand service has also announced that former CBS News correspondent Lara Logan will host a documentary series on media bias, illegal immigration, and other issues, and said more signings are in the works.
When Fox Nation began late last year, it was positioned as a place where potential subscribers could go if they didn’t feel they were getting enough opinion programming on Fox News Channel. Instead, users were apparently getting their fill.
“In a weird way, what the traditional Fox audience wants is complementary to the channel but not more of the same,” said John Finley, the Fox executive vice president who oversees the streaming service.
Perhaps the political climate has exhausted them, he said. Instead, he has found viewers were hungry for “programming with Fox values but not necessarily politics,” he said. That encompasses history, crime and lifestyle programming.
“What Made America Great,” where “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade visits historical sites across the country, is one of the service’s most popular programs. So is “Scandalous,” a documentary series on controversial happenings in history.
Abby Hornacek is a popular host, both with the series “PARK’D” in which she visits national parks and “Ride to Work,” in which she accompanies Fox personalities in a show that recalls Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” only without coffee stops and without the jokes.
Kilmeade said that he has found “What Made America Great” a fun change of pace and that he’s been surprised by the reaction he gets.
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“I was able to sit on Washington’s head and look down,” Kilmeade said, recalling one of his favorite stops, Mount Rushmore.
Finley said Fox is happy with the number of subscribers Fox Nation has after one year, although the company won’t release any statistics. The market research firm Parks Associates estimates that it has between 200,000 and 300,000 subscribers.
For a niche product designed to attract a specific type of user — fans of the television network — that’s pretty good, said Brett Sappington, senior research director at Parks Associates.
This past summer, Fox Nation also began streaming an audio broadcast of Fox News Channel programming a half-hour after appearing on television, which Finley estimated is usually watched by about 20 percent of the service’s users.
The Associated Press contributed to this article