Fox News (FOXA) losing star host Bill O'Reilly might not hurt the network as much as people think.
His departure will cost the network less than $100 million in annual ad sales, much lower than other analysts estimate, said Nomura senior analyst Anthony DiClemente.
"I think a lot of numbers are being overreported in terms of what the ad revenue is from O'Reilly's show," DiClemente told CNBC.
Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox announced on Wednesday O'Reilly was being removed from the network. Tucker Carlson will take over his 8 p.m. ET time slot.
"After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," the company said in a statement.
"The O'Reilly Factor" spent 15 years as the highest-rated cable news show. Other analysts said the show brought in $325 million in ad revenue during 2015-2016, making it the top revenue producer of any show on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported O'Reilly settled five sexual harassment cases for about $13 million. The article prompted 21st Century Fox to investigate the host's behavior. In addition, many brands pulled their ads from his show including BMW and Hyundai.
But what matters more than ad sales is how O'Reilly's ousting will potentially impact affiliate fees, or the portion of cable and satellite subscription costs that gets paid to the specific network, DiClemente said. Nomura estimated Fox News would make more than $9 billion in affiliate fees this year.
People upset about O'Reilly's forced departure may quit their cable subscriptions, and Fox News would lose out on those fees, DiClemente said.
But, when former anchor Megyn Kelly left the network, her replacement Carlson actually increased the ratings for that time slot, DiClemente said. The network is not reliant on specific personalities, he argued.
"If the platform continues to be powerful, they will be able to develop other personalities that hopefully don't have sexual harassment issues," he said. "I think it is more like the platform being the kind of engine that drives the creation of that personality."
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of MSNBC and CNBC.
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