Are CNBC’s Ratings Correlated to Volatility? (Yes)

The Monday NYT has an interesting article about the recent market volatility and CNBC’s upsurge in ratings: Market Ills Give CNBC a Bounce.


“The markets’ wild swings are not necessarily profit-generating for TV news outlets because most advertisers buy airtime far in advance, meaning that the prices do not rise in tandem with the ratings. But coverage of crises can burnish reputations, as the networks attract worried viewers who sample news and stock-picking shows for the first time — or at least for the first time in a long while.

So far, CNBC — not its smaller rivals — seems to be benefiting the most from interest this month in the last-minute agreement on the United States debt ceiling, the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of America’s debt rating and concern over the stability of European banks.

Through the first two weeks of August, CNBC, a unit of NBC Universal, had on average 378,000 at-home viewers during the New York market hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., up sharply from 224,000 in July.”

As we wrote in 2009:

“Indeed, those two factors seem to be the keys: Under ordinary bull and bear markets, CNBC ratings are likely to rise and fall with the stock market. That was the conclusion of phases two and three above. However, when we encounter periods of extraordinary events, CNBC ratings are correlated to Volatility.

If you think of CNBC as a single purpose channel — like ESPN or the Weather Channel — this makes sense. During playoffs and other big sporting events, ESPN traffic (including its website) rises.  Wild weather sends more people over to the Weather Channel than usual to see the latest update.

Imagine a very unusual weather season, with a different hurricane making landfall and causing billions in destruction every week. That would sure wonders for the Weather Channel’s ratings.”

That call a few years ago remains spot on . . .


Why CNBC’s Ratings Are Down (August 6th, 2009)

Market Ills Give CNBC a Bounce
NYT, August 14, 2011

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