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She's Up, She's Down, She's Comin' Back

By® Staff

Originally Posted

Those were heady days for CNBC.

In March 2000, 418,000 viewers watched the financial-news spinoff of NBC. For a while, CNBC viewership outstripped mighty CNN.

Then the market fell and fell some more, and viewers tired of watching their nest eggs dwindle, hour by hour, 24 hours a day. During the first half of 2002, CNBC viewership fell to 232,000, according to Nielsen Media Research.

People were tired of a down stock market, and viewers turned cable news on and CNBC off in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Fox News logged 643,000 viewers a day during the first six months of 2002, while CNN had 525,000.

But things are beginning to turn, and CNBC ratings, though remaining in the cellar behind CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, are edging upward.

Sultry, shapely host Maria Bartiromo began attracting the important hormonal segment of the marketplace, with sexy interview topics that would have done credit to CornerBarPR.comSM.

Subject matter has included "a discussion on how to negotiate with a prostitute, smart shopping for bachelor party gifts, an interview with Christine Hefner, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, and a recurring theme of tracking the federal funds rate by watching how much 'glow' Andrea Mitchell, wife of Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, has on any given day," according to The Daily Probe.

After a nasty split from PBS, Louis Rukeyser, the popular "Silver Fox," who some believe surely must have started business news on television, has been pissing off public broadcasting executives by arranging for PBS stations to re-air his CNBC show for extremely low fees after the initial broadcast on the commercial network.

His numbers aren't nearly as big as they used to be on PBS, but Rukeyser's popularity is serving to undermine his replacement at the same time it brings more viewers to his new network.

CNBC -- which claims changes have maintained its profitability -- whines that Nielsen, focusing on households, doesn't track many of its viewers in brokerage houses, trading floors, barber shops, and business venues. Still, it's moving away from minute-by-minute market coverage, while still retaining a bit of sports-coverage flair.

The stock markets are exciting and they move quickly, just like a sporting event, says Bartiromo. Breathless, sexy play-by-play babes can't hurt.

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