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As you enjoy your fireworks and your beach trips and your BBQs this weekend, keep some thoughts of CNBC in your mind. The erstwhile financial news giant continues to go the way of the family sitcom. This, from Brian Lund:
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. 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!"
Maybe "Mad Money" was running against a U.S. soccer game or something.
I beat the trend about five years ago, giving up on CNBC cold turkey. Too many useless Octaboxes. Too much shouting over each other. Too many political opinions that I could care less about. Too little accountability for previous market calls that went sour.
I want investing info, period. Bloomberg just simply did a better job of that, in my opinion.
Of course, the big elephants in the room are Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and StockTwits. Turns out we don't have to watch TV for up-to-the-second business news anyway.
I've gone off the wagon (or is it back on the wagon?) a bit recently, though. I've flipped on some CNBC in the late morning/early afternoon time slots and it's not so bad anymore, in my humble opinion. There are, like, three minutes of that Ranting Guy from the pits in Chicago that I could do without; otherwise, it's not making me bang my head.
I've had a myriad of suggestions over the years of what they should do to win back Ö well, me. But honestly, there's probably not much they can do to get back to anywhere near where they were in the 90s and early "aughts." Every audience is so diffuse nowadays and every network seems like it's just trying to capture a smaller and smaller niche. Obviously there's money out there in starting new networks -- I mean, they keep starting up even as overall TV viewership shrinks.
Sports rights fees are going through the roof thanks to the fact that social media makes everything a group event that you need to watch in the moment. And there's a booming market for original entertainment content. And there's clearly still an audience for pretend "reality" TV. But the latter area is the only that CNBC can really hope to compete in, and their stabs there have been almost universally horrible. And that only solves their after-hours programming anyway.
Guessing CNBC can still command higher ad rates per viewer thanks to the demographics their audience. But if the audience keeps heading toward zero, no amount of salesmanship will keep it viable.
Disclaimer: Mr. Warner's opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.