Fox News is in a jam this week as major automakers and smaller outfits pull their ads from the network's popular "O'Reilly Factor" show, following a series of sexual harassment claims against host Bill O'Reilly.
According to NBC News, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi all yanked their ads after a New York Times investigation that surfaced five sexual harassment cases against the political pundit.
They were joined Tuesday by pharmaceutical makers GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer, Sanofi Consumer Care, insurer Allstate, asset management firm T. Rowe Price, and personal finance company Credit Karma.
Orkin, a pest control company; Untuckit, a men's clothing line; Ancestry.com, a family history service; Constant Contact, an email marketer; and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the parent company of the Rachel Ray-endorsed dog food brand Nutrish, also announced they were pulling ads.
Fox News said in a statement Tuesday that it values its ad partners and was "working with them to address their current concerns about the O'Reilly Factor. At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs."
O'Reilly has denied the claims have merit — but that hasn't stopped the sponsor pullback. The show draws 4 million viewers nightly and generated $446 million in advertising from 2014 to 2016, according to research firm Kantar Media.
The NYTimes reported that the five women have received settlement payments totaling $13 million from either Fox or O'Reilly himself.
"Just like other prominent and controversial people, I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity," said O'Reilly in a statement on Saturday. He noted that during his two decade-long tenure no one had filed a complaint about him with the Human Resources Department.
According to ad-tracking firm iSpot.tv, Mercedes-Benz bought an estimated $266,477 of commercials on the show over the past 30 days, the tenth most, and spent $1.3 million in 2016. Hyundai purchased $102,902 worth of commercials over the last 30 days, and $913,445 in 2016. The South Korean automaker also spent $644,788 in 2016 for Kia spots.
Untuckit spent $365,556 in the past 30 days and $1.36 million in 2016. Sanofi spent more than $1 million in 2016, while GSK spent $565,962 to advertise last year.
While advertisers back away, viewers are staying put. On Monday night, “Factor” was the most-watched show among all of cable news, averaging 3.7 million total viewers and 645,000 among the ad-friendly demographic of adults age 25-54. O’Reilly was up 24 percent compared to the same day last year and nine percent compared to last Monday.