There was a time in the late 1990s –- and again briefly during the financial crisis of in the late 2000s –- when CNBC was the 800-pound gorilla of financial news. Professionals in the financial services industry and amateurs who were active traders were tuned in constantly, and even those with just a cursory interest in the markets were regular viewers.
Those viewers -- especially the retail investors like you and me -- were
the lifeblood of the network, driving the ratings of its
personality-driven programming. And as much as Comcast's (CMCSA)
CNBC needed us, its well-crafted propaganda tried to convince us that
we, too, needed CNBC to get the best, up-to-the-minute financial
It's questionable as to how much the average retail investor ever really
needed CNBC in the past, but what is blatantly clear is that we no
longer need it today -- and we know it.
According to the latest Nielsen ratings, CNBC's total audience
viewership during the second quarter of 2014 for business day
programming has dropped to its lowest levels since 1997 [make that since 1993]. The news is
even worse for its marquee show, "Mad Money," hosted by the
controversial financial pundit Jim Cramer.
Cramer's show recently had its second-lowest ratings ever among total
viewers, and its lowest-rated show among the key 25-54 year old
demographic, bringing in only 2,000 such viewers on a Friday afternoon. As Cramer might say, "Un-booyah!"
Comparing the fate of CNBC to Bloomberg, considered the more hard
hitting business news source, is to note a study in contrast. Since
spring of 2008, Bloomberg’s revenue has jumped to more than $9 billion,
from $5.4 billion while subscriptions to Bloomberg’s pricey financial
news terminals have grown to 321,000, from 273,000, despite a shrinking
financial sector, a recent New York Times article noted. Bloomberg’s television ratings are not public but they are said to be lower than CNBC, however.
Fox Business Network had better ratings than CNBC among the advertising
demo of people aged 25–54 for every hour between 2pm and 6pm on
Wednesday October 9, according to Nielsen Media Research. Lou Dobbs also
bested his rival, CNBC host Larry Kudlow, in both total viewers and the
advertising demo. This news is another blow against the network, which
just had its worst quarter in twenty years.
Maria Bartiromo and Bill Griffith’s Closing Bell was the worst performer, with 58 percent fewer viewers in the demo than FBN’s After the Bell from 4pm to 5pm, and 38 percent fewer than Countdown to Closing Bell from 3pm to 4pm. Fast Money had half as many viewers in the demo as Money with Melissa Francis, and Street Signs had 38 percent fewer viewers than FBN’s Markets Now.
FBN has been outperforming CNBC for a while now, but this is the first
time they managed to completely sweep the afternoon shows in the demo.