In the mid 90’s, CNBC had all market watchers in the palm of their hand. Back then, a simple mention of the stock symbol would send it spiking higher as viewers flocked to find information on exploding Internet Stocks.
I give credit to the producer, who was smart enough to put an attractive, articulate woman in Maria Bartiromo on the NYSE floor for the opening bell each day with the rough and tumble traders giving constant look-ins on the action. Bartiromo left the network in 2013.
Today, it is a shadow of its former self, with Joe Kernan unable to finish a sentence, and aging hosts playing sideshow to Jim Cramer. I doubt Comcast (CMCSA) would own this property if it didn’t offer some protection for them, and I see CNBC continuing to lose viewers as the market watchers shift to others tools to get information on stocks. There is zero chance they will continue to pay hosts like Kernan when the audience shrinks across the industry, so prepare to say goodbye to CNBC as we know it.
Many market watchers would keep CNBC on in the background during the trading day, and most hedge funds or news organizations would keep the corner TV droning on aimlessly – similar to living next to railroad tracks and becoming numb to a train going by. In fact, Dan Aykroyd said it best in The Blues Brothers after John Belushi asked how often the train goes by their ramshackle apartment. Replied Ackroyd, “so often you don’t even notice it”.
Revamp, Reboot, or Join the Cable News Cemetery
I think CNBC is past its usefulness, and in the near future you will see a revamp. This will require viewer numbers to take a final nosedive. Recent numbers in the 25-34 demographic show historic lows, but the current team cannot possibly grow revenue for its parent Comcast. It has become an anchor that’s too heavy to pull.
I think the real trouble started in the early 2000’s, when viewers realized that the hosts were slaves to advertisers like Smith Barney, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley (MS) and all ETD ads. A measurable dropoff occurred in the months following the death of Mark Haines, the longtime anchor who held things together at CNBC. Many followers of CNBC know that Cramer is basically unwatchable without the set props on Mad Money, and Joe Kernan has yet to have a cohesive thought articulated to the audience without back tracking this millennium.
Show producers are forced to overload Becky Quick or fill with Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. I write today about CNBC after the passing of great reporters like Bob Simon and wonder how long a dinosaur like CNBC will be around. The days of huge ratings are gone – most market watchers get news from social media – and the advertising model where you must do puff pieces about your sponsors is unacceptable in 2015. Long story short – say goodbye to an iconic brand that fell victim to the changing ways we get our news.
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