In Depth: Getting Played…

While I was away this week, and unplugged from the internet, a mini-flood of FBN ratings pieces hit the web, complete with numbers for Don Imus’ new show. Articles in Daily Finance, Mediaite, and Talking Biz News all played up the ratings for the I-man.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where these ratings leaks came from. All three pieces “acquired” the numbers from points unknown but come on. It’s obvious where they came from. They came from FBN.

If it was just one site posting numbers, it would be more difficult to draw such a conclusion. But three sites within 24 hours? That has all the characteristics of a PR blitz trying to build some momentum for Imus’ show. And given the positive spin in all three pieces you know these numbers didn’t come from CNBC, which must be positively incensed at having to deal with these unofficially official leaks. And here’s why…

FBN isn’t officially rated yet by Nielsen. They have more subscribers than FNC did at this point in time when it was publicly rated, and yet FBN is still not officially rated. I have noted this contradiction before and it still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me today.

More to the point, FBN is using this as a dodge. It hides behind the fact that it’s not officially rated by Nielsen and yet it continues to feed out ratings tidbits here and there to make itself look good. But if FBN’s official position, as noted in two of the above Imus stories, is that it can’t confirm or deny ratings numbers because it’s not yet rated by Nielsen, this selective leaking directly contradicts the notion that the numbers are not accurate. And if they are accurate enough to be leaked out piecemeal then all the numbers should be accurate enough to be released officially.

I have complained before about this problem. Nut graphs…

These two leaks are sort of like the mole part of whack-a-mole. FBN’s ratings suddenly pop up and then dissapear behind the Nielsen firewall again. Put all the ratings out for all to see. If the Nielsen ratings methodology is stable enough for a selective FBN leak, then all the numbers should come out. If they aren’t stable enough, then how can one print numbers that aren’t considered valid?

The MSM should refuse to publish any more FBN numbers, whether leaked by FBN or anyone else, until Nielsen is fully rating FBN. This trickle here, trickle there by FBN and other networks to make the network look good or bad is baloney and should be stopped. Or, FBN should move to have its numbers made public and let the chips fall where they may. Both FNC and MSNBC got rated faster after launch than FBN has. FNC and MSNBC were rated within a year of launch, give or take a few months. It’s been well over a year and a half and we still haven’t gotten numbers for FBN. And the network started at a higher stage in the Nielsen rating process (Fledgling Subscription Stage) than either MSNBC or FNC did when they launched (Access Subscription Stage), which makes the lag in public ratings for FBN all the more glaring.

Daily Finance, Mediaite, and Talking Biz News should be ashamed. They’ve all been played. They took the numbers and ran with them, apparently without realizing they were being used. By not noting that the numbers were a selective leak, they gave FBN an unfair push at the expense of CNBC, which cannot fairly fight back given that FBN continues to hide behind that “not publicly rated” wall it has. Nielsen, once again, is asleep at the wheel and lets FBN cherry pick what numbers it wants to put out even though those numbers aren’t official.

Once again, I renew my call for a boycott of all FBN numbers until FBN is publicly rated. Anyone who doesn’t adhere to this is a tool, either for the network or its competition. And that’s just not fair. Or right.

10 Responses to “In Depth: Getting Played…”

  1. starbroker Says:

    I have no problem with what FBN is doing in regards to numbers. Who do you think was leaking the numbers earlier in an attempt to smear FBN? CNBC!

    They are the ones who started the leaking game, yet somehow FBN is the “bad guy”.

    This is funny coming from the same one who acted like it was a horrible idea for FBN to get Imus. They were throwing in the towel.

    Of course when mentioning that, there was never any context of all the various non business shows that had aired on CNBC. Now of course CNBC has thrown in the towel on prime time programming. I guess they aren’t a legitimate business channel anymore (once again).

    Imus was a stroke of genius on Ailes part. First day on and they already beat CNBC in the ratings. Of course it even makes it more delicious when FBN has less than half the reach of CNBC. Granted, that won’t be the case for long because the I man will help FBN in the distribution department.

    It will be nice to see if Imus is having an effect on the other FBN programming, but at this point I’m sure they are more concerned about getting into as many homes as possible.

    But I love the non call out of CNBC on this matter. Of course when they were leaking ratings to make FBN look bad, they also turned loose Keith Olbermann on them to attack their ratings and mock them mercylessly.

    Imus up 1500% in the ratings on FBN on Monday. Poor CNBC.

  2. starbroker Says:

    they gave FBN an unfair push at the expense of CNBC, which cannot fairly fight back given that FBN continues to hide behind that “not publicly rated” wall it has.>

    CNBC has leaked numbers before. Nothing stopped them from doing it again. If anything they had better keep their mouth shut. Why would they want any more stories done about IMUS and him beating CNBC in the ratings?

    Let them go try and leak stuff! Just keep playing up the fact that they were beaten when FBN is in 1/2 the homes they are in.

  3. theanonymous00 Says:

    ^
    1) You have NO proof that CNBC leaked FBN’s numbers – so…yeah. Enough said there – there goes half of your post.

    2) There were no further “leaks” by FBN regarding Imus’ ratings…if they were just as good or growing, they would have leaked them. One would have to draw the conclusion that after Monday’s initial surge, the numbers dropped. (and the 9k demo, even on debut day, was beyond embarrassing)

    3) CNBC is not a legit biz channel because they air docs at 8pm, onwards? So Fox Business News, with THREE hours of IMUS during the mornings – plus crap like “Happy Hour” make them MORE of a business network? LOL

  4. theanonymous00 Says:

    4) Did you even read THIS

    http://weblogs.jomc.unc.edu/talkingbiznews/?p=11146

    Despite the HUGE morning audience, they only averaged 36,000 viewers for the rest of the day! LMAO

    Poor CNBC indeed….NOT.

  5. starbroker Says:

    1) theres as much proof CNBC leaked ratings twice as much as their is FBN leaked ratings =so there goes your first point.

    2) So what did you want FBN to do? Leak ratings every day? Of course, if there had been a big decline after the first day then CNBC would have leaked ratings information like they have in the past. So there goes your 2nd point.

    2B 9,000 in the demo. Do you really think FBN cares about the “demo”? Its about numbers!

    3) The point about CNBC not being a legitimate business channel was pointed at all the FBN haters who criticized FBN for hiring Imus and for falsely claiming they were throwing in the towel. Funny, the same ones who claimed that didn’t call out CNBC.

    4) so they go from 21,000 avg before to 36,000. Not a bad start at all. Great start in increasing the rest of the day. With Imus they will continue to expand the channels distribution and keep picking up more and more viewers.

  6. I have no problem with what FBN is doing in regards to numbers. Who do you think was leaking the numbers earlier in an attempt to smear FBN? CNBC!

    They are the ones who started the leaking game, yet somehow FBN is the “bad guy”.

    That argument is a red herring since I’ve already said that all FBN ratings leaks should be stopped whether they came from FBN or somewhere else. But even if I hadn’t said that your argument holds no water since only about 2 or threeof the ratings leaks could be traced to CNBC and all the rest, more than twice as many, could be traced to FBN (usually occuring during FBN talent profile pieces).

    This is funny coming from the same one who acted like it was a horrible idea for FBN to get Imus. They were throwing in the towel.

    I was out all last week and not yet been able to see Imus’ new show so I’ve not commented on it post-launch. I hope to do so next week. But, ratings or no ratings, putting a non-business show on a business network in order to try and compete in the ratings with CNBC IS a throwing in the towel. FBN hates the discussion going in this direction but it’s the truth. When a business channel opts for non-business programming to juice their numbers, it’s no better than what CNBC is doing in primetime with doc repeats.

  7. 1) theres as much proof CNBC leaked ratings twice as much as their is FBN leaked ratings

    Actually it’s far easier to spot an FBN ratings leak than a CNBC ratings leak. Would CNBC leak FBN ratings in a profile of Liz Claman? I think not.

    In general the rule to figure out who leaked what is simple:

    1) If the piece is positive, it came from FBN.
    2) If the piece is negative, it came from CNBC. (with the one exception of when FBN leaked out bad ratings data to just about every major MSM outlet in order to cut The New York Times off at the knees)

    2) So what did you want FBN to do? Leak ratings every day?

    No. FBN sould come out from behind the wall it’s hiding behind and post all their numbers and let the chips fall where they may. They only come out when they want to highlight a show or talent. The rest of the time they hide behind the wall. If the numbers are solid enough for being leaked out piecemeal whenever FBN wants to, they’re solid enough for FBN to be fully rated by Nielsen. That’s the big point and what I’m complaining loudest about.

    3) The point about CNBC not being a legitimate business channel was pointed at all the FBN haters who criticized FBN for hiring Imus and for falsely claiming they were throwing in the towel. Funny, the same ones who claimed that didn’t call out CNBC.

    I just did in the previous comment. But your argument about “FBN haters” is BS. It’s not a false claim that FBN is throwing in the towel by hiring Imus. That comment was dead on. If the reason a business network is on the air is to provide business news, putting on a non-business program flies in the face of that.

    Furthermore, I watch FBN more than I watch CNBC.

  8. starbroker Says:

    From back in August:
    The early morning hours are where the overseas markets are covered and overnight business news revealed ahead of the day’s open. Currently FBN goes head to head with CNBC in this time period. If Imus joins FBN, CNBC gets nearly exclusive coverage and retrenches its “claim” as the “real” business news leader. That’s a big deal, no matter how FBN would try and spin it. I would expect CNBC to make a lot of hay out of this. And why not? This would be a sign of weakness and, by my scorecard, the first real mis-step FBN would have made since launch. Can you see Imus talking S&P or The Fed or Sarbanes-Oxley? I can’t.>

    Of course CNBC can not call themselves the “Real Business Leader” because after over 20 years they still can’t program in prime time. They still take holidays off and they take weekends off.

    With Jenna Lee doing updates during Imus’s show (she covers all the overseas stuff that 95% of the people care about), not to mention anyone can watch her show on the internet as well, which is really better because commuters can watch/listen on their iphones or whatever.

    FBN gets attacked for doing something that is actually smart. Why doesn’t CNBC go back to showing “Deal or No Deal”. It got better ratings than any of their other garbage they were showing all day.

    The Imus move is a great move. Nobody was watching Fox in the beginning. They had on great shows but nothing. They didn’t have that many affiliates or anything else. Boom-Fox pays a premium for NFL rights and puts Fox on the map. Same thing they are doing with Imus.

    Imus isn’t like Stern. He talks politics and other things. All of which have a direct effect on business.

  9. starbroker Says:

    Come on look at this nonsense:

    even if I hadn’t said that your argument holds no water since only about 2 or threeof the ratings leaks could be traced to CNBC and all the rest, more than twice as many, could be traced to FBN (usually occuring during FBN talent profile pieces)>

    Your argument holds no water. All it takes is 2 or 3 leaks by CNBC (which Olbermann jumped all over) to set the tone that FBN doesn’t get any ratings. The NY Times etc ran with those. How many more times do you think they needed to leak the info to do damage?

    I’m sure you know that a negative story always gets more publicity than a positive one. FBN could release 50 new leaks and it wouldn’t combat the damage done by the first few of CNBC.

    Also, to bring up profiles. I’m sure theres a ton of people reading a Liz Clayman profile or one about one of the other anchors. That’s far different from headlines like: FBN HAS NO RATINGS.

  10. Well I don’t want to belabor the obvious but FBN doesn’t have any ratings to speak of. The thing is this is to be expected. Even FBN played down the ratings as part of a long term process which you can’t judge in the short term. And I agree with that. For the record I thought what the Times did was wrong…for the simple reason that those numbers weren’t official numbers since FBN wasn’t officially rated by Nielsen. But two wrongs don’t make a right and FBN leaking numbers for Imus is no better than CNBC leaking numbers…because those numbers aren’t official. This is why I have called for a leak moritorium until FBN is rated officially.

    The question you should be asking is why isn’t FBN rated yet? They have more subscribers than FNC did at this point in its existence and FNC was already rated by Nielsen. And FBN started the rating process with Nielsen at a higher stage than FNC did when it started being rated by Nielsen.

    The official story is that it’s still questioning Nielsen’s methodology in FBN’s ratings. The reason for this I believe is because FBN is primarily on digital tiers and not everyone is subscribing to digital. So even though there are 50 million plus subscribers, the actual viewership pool is much smaller because a bulk of those 50 million subs are digital only.

    But whatever the reason FBN has been on the air for over two years and it’s still not rated. What I want is it to be rated. But if it isn’t nobody should be putting out numbers. Not CNBC. Not FBN. Nobody. And the MSM writers who are getting these numbers should refuse to publish them because they’re being used either to pump up FBN or trash FBN with numbers that aren’t kosher.

    With Jenna Lee doing updates during Imus’s show (she covers all the overseas stuff that 95% of the people care about), not to mention anyone can watch her show on the internet as well, which is really better because commuters can watch/listen on their iphones or whatever.

    I caught about an hour of Imus this morning (sleep trouble). What I saw of the business updates were what I expected. They were business headlines. There was no analysis. No interviews with business people. It was business lite. Which is exactly what I feared would happen when the news that Imus would be coming to FBN broke. It sets up an easy choice for business viewers: If you want headlines go tune in FBN. If you want more you should watch CNBC. That’s a brand killer for FBN. And that’s why Imus on FBN is a throwing in of the towel.

    I’m sure you know that a negative story always gets more publicity than a positive one. FBN could release 50 new leaks and it wouldn’t combat the damage done by the first few of CNBC.

    I don’t buy that argument. Besides, even FBN’s own “positive” leaks show that FBN’s numbers are still weak. Imus’ numbers showed they skewed old 10:1. That’s horrible even by cable news standards. So even if I bought your argument that the damage CNBC did would require a zillion FBN positive leaks, FBN’s “positive” leaks only re-inforce the story that its ratings are not good.

    There are two battles going on here. One is for ratings. The other is for branding. We all know FBN is suffering in the former, but that’s not as bad as undermining your brand. Which FBN did with Imus. Yes, CNBC is a brand wasteland in primetime, but CNBC isn’t making its profits in primetime…it’s trying to squeeze out a few extra bucks in primetime. But its bread and butter is daytime. That’s where its brand is made. And that’s what FBN has to compete with. And that’s what makes abandoning its business audience from 6-9 so troubling.

    I think FBN may be going to try a new strategy. Take on CNBC in primetime with provacative programming. CNBC’s abdication of business in primetime leaves the door wide open for FBN. If FBN can do in prime what FNC did, it could boost the ratings and increase its bottom line. But in terms of brand identification, it’s still dayside.

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