We know several people who watch the Fox Business Network, but that’s because all of them appear on the newly launched cable channel from time to time. The rest of America, it seems, is soundly ignoring News Corp.’s newest offering: Nielsen says an average of 6,300 people a day watched FBN in the first two months of its launch last fall — a little more than 2% of CNBC’s audience of 283,000.
Nielsen doesn’t officially track FBN, but both Fox and CNBC pay for private data on the channel, and someone (any guesses?) leaked the numbers to the New York Times. Tons of caveats here: CNBC is carried in 3x as many households as Fox is; the numbers for both networks don’t reflect workplace viewing; we don’t have numbers to compare Fox News or CNBC’s launches, so it’s hard to put FBN’s stats in context.
More important: One of Rupert Murdoch’s defining traits is his willingness to spend early and often on ventures that don’t seem to make sense, only to be proven right down the road (see: Fox broadcast network, Fox News channel, MySpace). And by those standards, FBN is penny change: News Corp. has said it expects to spend $130 million over three years before reaching break-even. Still, it’s one thing to lose money on a high profile project. It’s another to lose money on a high profile project no one sees.
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