Variety’s Brian Steinberg interviews FBN’s Maria Bartiromo…
“We are trying to build a business network,” Bartiromo said in an interview, “and so I think in order to have a business network you need to have morning shows.”
Will “Opening Bell” stand apart from its primary TV competitor, CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street”? Bartiromo has ideas. She says she knows business-news aficionados get more of the nitty-gritty of the stock market – earnings reports, analyst ratings changes and stock movements – from any number of web sites and digital players. And so, she’d like to help viewers gain more perspective and put pieces of news together by working her sources and providing longer, in-depth interviews with important observers and players.
“There was a moment in time when it was really all about the stock market, and I know, because I was there,” she said. ”I think today viewers want something very different.” People with an interest in business “want to know about the latest technology. They want the international story, the emerging markets. They want to know about jobs. They want to know more and expect more and deeper perspective. That really is my opportunity.”
For Fox Business Network, the hire is a big, and likely expensive, maneuver. While the network has notched audience growth over its six years, CNBC retains a sizable lead. Another big name FBN has lured, Lou Dobbs, has maintained his cachet, but has not mustered the viewership numbers he enjoyed at CNN.
Related: The LA Times’ Meg James has FBN President Kevin Magee talking about the Bartiromo hire…
“To create a channel from zero is enormously challenging,” said Kevin Magee, executive vice president of Fox Business Network. “We’ve had to convince people that there was another cable business channel out there.”
Bartiromo should help raise the profile of Fox Business and perhaps prompt loyal CNBC watchers to change the channel.
CNBC has seen its audience decline in recent years. Its daytime audience in 2013 was about 30% lower than 2010 levels, according to Nielsen audience estimates. A CNBC spokesman declined to discuss the network’s ratings.
Bartiromo’s arrival represents “a tipping point for us,” Magee said. “We are already moving the needle, and Maria will help us enormously. She’s got great experience, a terrific Rolodex and perspective. She has seen the ups and downs of the market, and they don’t fluster her.”