Can CNBC Replace Maria Bartiromo? Network May Have to Press Online

24/7 Wall St.

Can CNBC Replace Maria Bartiromo as she leaves for Fox? No. In the third quarter, nearly every show aired by the network hit a multiyear low in ratings. As a matter of fact, the drop in numbers for the entire network reached a 20-year low in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. The only show CNBC airs that did not suffer awfully was Bartiromo's show, Closing Bell, which ran from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is hard to imagine what CNBC can do to keep her viewers, no matter who it puts in her place. On the other hand, CNBC has done extremely well online, and it will need to turn to that business to bolster its traditional on-air business.

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Mediaite said of the third quarter:

The following shows all saw their lowest-rated quarter ever in the demo: Squawk Box (6-9a), Power Lunch (1-2p), Street Signs (2-3p), Fast Money (5-6p) and Mad Money (6-7p). And these all had their lowest-rated quarter ever in total viewers: Squawk on the Street (9-11a), Fast Money Halftime Report (12-1p), Closing Bell (4-5p) and The Kudlow Report (7-8p).

Bartiromo's departure leaves CNBC with only a single nationally recognized figure -- Jim Cramer. Even he cannot stay on air for the entire day.

As CNBC's television ratings have fallen, CNBC.com has gained visitors rapidly. comScore Media Metrix data for October show CNBC had 9.6 million unique visitors, which puts it ahead of Reuters and TheStreet Inc. (TST), but behind Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) CNNMoney and independent site Business Insider. TalkingBizNews reported that this was the best October in CNBC.com's history and its second best month of all time. CNBC claims another set of advantages online. TalkingBizNews also reported that:

In addition, the CNBC mobile web recorded its highest monthly unique visitors ever with 4.4 million, up 50 percent year-over-year and up 31 percent from the previous high that was recorded in August, according to Omniture.

In addition, CNBC's iPhone App posted 597,000 unique visitors for the month. And its iPad app posted 422,000 unique visitors, according to Omniture.

If mobile traffic is the new Holy Grail of online content businesses, CNBC can claim extraordinary strides.

The challenge CNBC still faces is a hard one. Online advertising revenue will not replace a large drop in the advertising the network gets from its traditional television platform. Unlike much of the traditional media, CNBC has an Internet business that has already proved it can thrive.

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