It’s hard to exactly determine why CNBC’s viewership is bouncing around near all time lows along with its revenue, but as the recent Nielsen Ratings demonstrate there could be a problem in what some consider the land of Wall Street gloss and cheerleading.
CNBC vs Bloomberg
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.
A recent article in the underground business news website ZeroHedge, perhaps CNBC’s journalistic polar opposite, mused about the problem at the Wall Street news network that is considered by some to protect elite Wall Street interests and big bank executives before reporting on it.
Reasons for CNBC being in a free fall
Why is CNBC in free fall? ZeroHedge indicated it could be due to the emergence of centrally-planned markets dominated by large banking interests – which on-air reports challenge. It might also be due to high frequency trading – automated, self executing computers – pushing out humans. Perhaps it was due to “volatility plunging to record lows and complacency at record highs,” ZeroHedge wrote.
Howard Lindzon, chairman of StockTwits, joked on Twitter with CNBC ratings at a 21 year low, “they need to switch to game shows quickly.” Lindzon’s appearances on the network were said to have fallen sharply after he made critical comments about Citibank.
Charlie Gasparino left CNBC and Join FBN
Some argue this transition from news to pure entertainment that protects powerful interests has already taken place. “Female faces that are increasingly taking over the primetime financial TV slots,” ZeroHedge noted, treading on sensitive politically correct ground. The alternative business news source, popular because it challenges authority, continued: “Because people are tired of Cramer’s endless ‘caffeine’ high and endless attempts to justify a record disconnect between manipulated record high ‘markets’ and a stagnant economy in which some 53 million workers are ‘freelancers,’ or simply because video game consoles don’t watch TV, America’s interest with finance and the stock market is over.”
The network is frequently accused of failing to report negative news regarding Wall Street’s elite banks, even when their actions involve criminal behavior and blocked DoJ investigations.
“On the topic of Wall Street, the only “f-bomb” CNBC fails to drop is the fraud pulled off by Wall Street firms when they failed to properly mark their books and fueled massive problems for the American economy,” wrote author and derivatives authority Janet Tavakoli on her blog.
In a business news environment where keeping a lid on Wall Street criminal behavior is increasingly difficult, CNBC has choices to make going forward. They can be a “news program” and report the actual news and challenge authority, or they can remain a “show” considered as nothing more than entertainment in some quarters.