Entertainment Industry

Category: Fox Business Network

Market woes spell rating gains for FBN and CNBC

Lou Dobbs

The stock market's losses have meant ratings gains for Fox Business Network and CNBC.

Both channels have seen their typically tiny audiences balloon into, well, small audiences. Still, the gains are impressive and give both networks a chance to expand beyond their core viewership.

"Fox Business has made great strides," News Corp. President Chase Carey said of the cable channel's recent ratings while speaking on the media giant's fourth-quarter earnings conference call with analysts and media Wednesday.

Launched almost four years ago, Fox Business has posted huge -- in many cases record -- percentage increases in ratings over the last week. The gains have been bigger than those experienced by CNBC, which is not surprising given that Fox Business is in only 58 million homes while CNBC is in north of 90 million homes.

From Thursday through Tuesday, the daytime audience (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for Fox Business grew 256% to 128,000 viewers, from 36,000 viewers for the same period last year. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m, Fox's audience was up 162% to 131,000 viewers from 50,000 a year earlier.

CNBC saw its daytime audience grow 68% to 438,000 viewers from 260,000 over the same period. In late afternoon and early evening, the gain was almost 111% to 340,000 viewers from 161,000.

Despite the distribution advantage for CNBC, Lou Dobbs' show on Fox Business has performed exceptionally well.

As for the general news channels, Fox News continues to dominate in both daytime and prime time through the latest financial crisis.

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-- Joe Flint

Photo: Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs. Credit: Fox Business Network.

Media chiefs confront challenges facing cable TV industry

CABLESSHOWS

A sense of urgency surrounds the annual National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. convention in Chicago this week as big media firms grapple with a host of business challenges that threaten their livelihood.

An onslaught of new technologies, devices and digital-content-delivering platforms and the nation's  growing wealth divide are challenging the cable television industry to no longer take for granted customers who shell out $70 to $100 a month for service.

Young consumers, in particular, do not seem to share their parents' affinity for their pricey cable and satellite TV packages, and are increasingly drawn to the Internet and to services including Netflix and Hulu for entertainment.

The health of the cable industry is crucial to the rest of the entertainment pipeline because it is cable and satellite operators who underwrite the high cost of television programming.

While industry leaders tried to put on a brave face, not everyone was buying it. Typically, question-and-answer sessions at industry conventions turn into fan-fests with softball questions, but Tuesday's opening panel, moderated by Fox Business News anchor Liz Claman, had a sharper tone. 

Claman suggested that cable leaders who said they weren't seeing evidence of cord-cutting -- or people who cancel their cable subscriptions in favor of lower-cost Internet options -- sounded a little too much like Wall Street bankers who, in early 2007, didn't believe the failure of a few subprime mortgages would be much of a problem. 

Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman sought to downplay the threat. He said the cable industry not only survived but thrived during the recessions.  Millions of people didn't cancel their cable subscriptions despite stretched incomes, he said, because they regard their pay TV subscriptions as a good value.

"That's the story here," Dauman said.

But Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt was more cautious. 

"There clearly is a growing underclass of people who can't afford the services they want.  It would behoove all of us to work together to meet the needs of that population," Britt said. "Most of the people want everything but not everyone can afford it. The economics of all of us [programmers and operators] make that difficult, and it would serve us well to worry about that group of people."

The audience broke into applause.

Patrick Esser, president of Cox Communications, said an increasing segment -- estimated at 40% of the U.S. population -- no longer have enough extra money, after the cost of food and housing, to continue to pay their rising TV bills.

"We have to be very sensitive that we serve customers," Esser said.  "They either have disposable income or they don't. I worry more about that than cord-cutting -- making sure we have the products and services, and their affordability."

The panel, which also included News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, stressed that the industry must figure out ways to support the cost of making entertainment and delivering it to consumers.

"Don't be afraid of your children," Bewkes said. "Put the TV on the Internet devices, and don't change the business model and don't charge people extra. Make it easy for them to use it."

This spring, Time Warner rolled out its HBO Go option for subscribers to watch HBO programming on their iPads and other mobile devices.  Bewkes said such user-friendly experiences were key.

And the cable industry, which also sells broadband Internet service packages, must improve data transfer speeds to deliver high-quality video.

"We really all have to remember this: It is this infrastructure, this industry, that allows for quality audio and visual display of material," Bewkes said. "We ought to keep rolling this out as quickly as we can so the consumers get a seamless adoption of better technological quality and access to what they want, when they want it. It's all in this room."

-- Meg James

Photo: The cable industry invades Chicago: Credit: NCTA.

 

Lou Dobbs joining Fox Business Network

Just about a year to the day that he left CNN, Lou Dobbs is returning to cable news, this time as host of his own show on News Corp.'s Fox Business Network.

DOBBS Fox Business Network is expected to announce that it has signed Dobbs as early as Wednesday afternoon. It's the latest high-profile hire for the cable network, which launched a little over three years ago and is in 57 million homes. Although that is far fewer homes than its chief rival, CNBC, Fox Business last week managed to beat CNBC on election night, both in viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic.

Dobbs' show will premiere in early 2011. He will also appear on other Fox Business programming.

When Dobbs left CNN last November after clashing with management there, he said some leaders had been urging him to "go beyond the role at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day."

At that time, there was speculation that Dobbs would seek some sort of political office. He had become something of a lightening rod on several issues, most prominently illegal immigration. It was his commentary on that topic that often led to fights with CNN brass, including Jon Klein, who was then president of CNN's domestic operations.

Although Dobbs played up the idea that he would enter politics, many within the media industry anticipated that he would find a new home at Fox, either with Fox News Channel or Fox Business.

Dobbs has not been off the radar for the last year. He continued his nationally syndicated radio show after he left CNN and is expected to keep that gig with Fox Business as well.

Dobbs will instantly become one of the biggest names on Fox Business. Neil Cavuto is its most prominent on-air personality. Other high-profile anchors and reporters include Charlie Gasparino and Dennis Kneale, both former CNBC staffers, and Gerri Willis, an ex-CNN correspondent who hosts a show for Fox Business.

-- Joe Flint

For the record: This post was updated to include details on Dobbs show would premiere.

Photo: Lou Dobbs. Credit: Karen Bleier / Getty Images

Gasparino lands at Fox Business

In one of its highest profile hires to date, Fox Business Network has signed veteran business reporter and CNBC correspondent Charlie Gasparino to a multi-year deal.

GASPARINO The move comes a little over two months after his last on-air appearance for CNBC, when he reported on Bank of America's plans to pay back its bailout money.

A brash (some might say cocky) reporter, Gasparino, who wears his blue-collar, teen-boxer street cred on his Armani sleeves, was a lively presence on CNBC. Besides breaking some big stories, he also liked mixing it up with his colleagues, most famously Dylan Ratigan. Gasparino made waves late last year when he called on Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein to resign.

A CNBC spokesman said, "We thank him for all his quality contributions and we wish him the best." The spokesman declined to comment on why Gasparino had gone missing from CNBC's air.

Gasparino, 47, said he was leaving General Electric Co.'s CNBC for the upstart Fox Business Network because he "wants to be part of something that could do something great." Though he claims to harbor no ill will toward CNBC, he did say his job at Fox Business is to "beat the hell out of the competition." Asked why he hadn't been on CNBC's air since early December, he said, "I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to stay or go."

Gasparino will make his debut on Fox Business next week and will also pop up on the Fox News Channel as well. Terms of Gasparino's deal were not disclosed, but it is a wee bit north of $1 million a year, people familiar with the contract said.

"I think this is a better platform for him," said Kevin Magee, executive vice president of Fox Business Network. Asked if Gasparino's role on Fox Business would be similar to that of CNBC's hot-shot reporter David Faber, Magee said, "I'm sorry, who's that?"

Going to Fox Business is something of a homecoming for Gasparino, who made a name for himself covering Wall Street scandals including the Martha Stewart insider trading case and the downfall of New York Stock Exchange chief Richard Grasso while at the Wall Street Journal, which is now owned by Fox Business parent News Corp. (Full disclosure: I worked at the WSJ at the same time as Gasparino, but the only time we crossed paths was in the elevator.)

Fox Business, which has made some ratings gains as of late thanks in large part to the simulcast of Don Imus' radio show on the network, still trails CNBC. Of course, CNBC is fully distributed in almost 100 million homes, while Fox Business is in just over 50 million homes.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Charlie Gasparino. Courtesy of Fox Business Network

No immediate successor for Fox Business Network's Alexis Glick, whose ratings were in the red

Fox Business Network says it has no plans to immediately replace Alexis Glick, the anchor of its morning show "Opening Bell" who announced on the air this morning that she's leaving the cable channel after three years there.

GLICK Glick, who was also the network's vice president of business news, was a high-profile hire for Fox Business, but it didn't pay off in ratings. Glick, whose three-year contract was expiring, had seen her workload cut when Fox Business started to simulcast the morning radio show of Don Imus and canceled Glick's "Money for Breakfast" show.

Although Fox Business does not release ratings, the decision to carry Imus has resulted in stronger numbers for the network, people familiar with the situation said. However, Glick was not able to keep the bigger audience Imus was providing. Over 50% of his viewers bailed when "Opening Bell" started to ring.

Fox Business said it will rotate talent in and out of the show. Among the anchors and reporters expected to get a shot are Jenna Lee, Connell McShane and Liz MacDonald.

Prior to joining Fox Business, Glick had a stint as a "Today" show anchor for the morning program's third hour. That was after making a name for herself at CNBC, where she was a senior correspondent.

-- Joe Flint

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Fox Business anchor Glick gives notice on air

Photo: Alexis Glick. Credit: Fox Business Network

Fox Business Network's Alexis Glick leaving

GLICKCAVUTO
Fox Business Network's Alexis Glick, who was a big hire for the News Corp.-owned cable channel, announced on her show this morning that she is leaving her job as anchor of "Opening Bell" and vice president of news.

Glick, 37, said today would be her last day on the show and that she is leaving for a new venture but declined to give any details. A Fox Business Network spokeswoman confirmed the exit. Glick is one of cable channel's most visible personalities after Neil Cavuto, the network's managing editor and reporter and Liz Claman.

"I'm about to embark on a new venture.... I can't give any details yet," she said on her show.

Glick had also hosted the preceding two hours on the network until a simulcast of radio personality Don Imus' morning show was scheduled in place of her program "Money for Breakfast."

Glick came to Fox Business in 2006 via Roger Ailes, the News Corp. executive over both Fox News and Fox Business. She had been a rising star at NBC ,where she she co-anchored the third hour of the "Today" show. Before that, she covered the New York Stock Exchange for CNBC. She started her career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and later went to Morgan Stanley as an executive director.

Glick did not say who would succeed her.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Fox Business Network's Alexis Glick with Neil Cavuto. Credit: Jennifer Altman/Los Angeles Times.


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