Nearly 50 Advertisers Have Ditched Bill O’Reilly. But Will It Be Enough To End His Show?

Nearly 50 Advertisers Have Ditched Bill O’Reilly. But Will It Be Enough To End His Show?

The sudden wave of advertisers abandoning Bill O’Reilly’s show this week has stunned media experts, sparking a broad debate over how — and if — the Fox News star can survive the sexual harassment scandal plaguing his program.

In the days since the New York Times reported that five women received about $13 million to settle allegations against the 67-year-old host, nearly 50 advertisers have yanked their commercials from the O’Reilly Factor. Automakers Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai led the charge, stating Monday that they did not want their brands associated with O’Reilly; a slew of others quickly followed suit, including brands like Advil, Coldwell Banker, H&R Block, and BMW.

And the backlash seemed to be growing, with more than 25 companies announcing Wednesday that they would no longer run ads on O’Reilly’s program. Out of the 107 companies and organizations that have recently advertised on the program, nearly half have now said they will no longer do so.

“This is a pretty massive amount in a short period of time,” said Crowdtap CEO Matt Britton, whose firm tracks and analyzes digital and media trends. “Once you have this many categories of brands pulling out, it becomes much harder to fill their slots because brands are afraid of becoming targets.”

More surprising, Britton noted, is that companies seem to be making the decision to leave of their own volition, rather than as a result of an activist-led boycott campaign.

Defections could continue to swell as consumers pressure Fox to pull the star off the air, he said, noting that companies that continue advertising on the show could risk being perceived as overtly political or indifferent to women’s rights.

“Advertisers would be seen as having to have a reason beyond financial gain to continue to stay if everyone else is backing out,” Britton said. And since most companies that advertise on O’Reilly are targeting a broad audience of consumers, he added, brand executives might find it easier to take a stand.

“This is not like the NFL,…