Fox Biz — which apparently still targets Main Street versus Wall Street — has failed to deliver on its promise since launching two years ago.
Yes, it faces a distribution hurdle: It lags behind CNBC, which reaches more than 90 million households while FBN can be seen in 50 million. But Fox’s ratings are also disastrous.
What’s happening here?
In a column on VanityFair.com, Matt Pressman wonders whether Fox Business is a lost cause. He points out some key evidence:
- The channel’s ratings are not publicly available because it is only a partial client of Nielsen’s services. Says Pressman, “It’s fairly safe to assume that the reason it is not a full-service client is that most of its shows fall short of attracting 35,000 viewers—the threshold below which Nielsen can’t accurately measure audience.”
- The potential threat posed by Bloomberg TV, which attacts the wealthiest audience on cable TV (median income: $156,290) and hopes to expand its general reach under the moneyed Bloomberg brand. Then it would crouch on CNBC territory, thwarting Fox’s plans for biz-news domination.
- CNBC gets dibs on The Wall Street Journal through an exclusive deal that expires in 2012. This means Fox can’t use the WSJ logo or make regular talking heads out of its reporting staff.
Not for long, says Fox VP Kevin Magee. He tells Pressman, “The fun and exciting part of 2012 and the expiration of that contract will be denying CNBC those resources. When we’re the only one on the Dow Jones wire, life will be better.”
Magee clearly talks a big game but he’s not exaggerating the added power of Dow Jones/WSJ content. It also needs an extra dose of celebrity: The channel has staffed up its newsroom with a couple of good hires, Don Imus and John Stossel. It tried to poach Lou Dobbs from CNN, and now that Dobbs is a free agent, the offer likely still stands.
Obviously, FBN has more work to do if it wants to join the same league as CNBC. The latter’s influence on high-finance types and movers-and-shakers of all stripes cannot be overstated. Brand loyalty is a big thing and Wall Street, which generally takes a conservative view, might not be willing to switch the remote just yet.
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