CNBC is Dead?

Daily Finance’s Brian Lund argues that CNBC is dead for “retail investors”…

There was a time in the late 1990s –- and again briefly during the financial crisis of in the late 2000s –- when CNBC was the 800-pound gorilla of financial news. Professionals in the financial services industry and amateurs who were active traders were tuned in constantly, and even those with just a cursory interest in the markets were regular viewers.

Those viewers — especially the retail investors like you and me — were the lifeblood of the network, driving the ratings of its personality-driven programming. And as much as Comcast’s (CMCSA) CNBC needed us, its well-crafted propaganda tried to convince us that we, too, needed CNBC to get the best, up-to-the-minute financial information.

It’s questionable as to how much the average retail investor ever really needed CNBC in the past, but what is blatantly clear is that we no longer need it today — and we know it.

Here’s Lund’s reasoning…

Whereas CNBC used to be the de facto source for breaking market news, today, platforms like Twitter (TWTR) regularly break news while CNBC is talking to a previously scheduled guest or in a commercial break. And market-specific social communities like StockTwits generate hundreds of thousands of interactions among their members revolving around the financial news of the day.

Not Enough of Anything

CNBC was never really a useful tool for the retail investor, but now it occupies an awkward space where it’s neither fast enough to compete with social media, nor deep enough (nor accountable enough) to compete with long-form digital content, and not accessible enough to compete with online personalities.

Advances in technology have finally revealed the dirty little secret about CNBC — and financial news television in general: Their shows are window dressing for clients in the offices of institutional investors, and obsolete badges of honor for financial pundits.

Ok. Agree or not, I can see the logic in that. However, do not all those reasons apply just as relevantly to FBN and Bloomberg? There’s nothing that either do that CNBC doesn’t do as well, albeit with different personalities. So if CNBC is dead for retail investors, are not FBN and Bloomberg dead to retail investors as well? Lund seems to suggest as much in that last sentence, and yet he keeps his fixation almost exclusively on CNBC.

8 Responses to “CNBC is Dead?”

  1. heaven forbid somebody says something sucks without saying, “and the Fox thing sucks too!”

  2. joeremi Says:

    So if CNBC is dead for retail investors, are not FBN and Bloomberg dead to retail investors as well? Lund seems to suggest as much in that last sentence, and yet he keeps his fixation almost exclusively on CNBC.

    The way I read it, Lund is reflecting on a previous power CNBC had in the business community, which the other two networks never had.

  3. “So if CNBC is dead for retail investors, are not FBN and Bloomberg dead to retail investors as well?”

    ^^You could say the same thing about cable news networks in general. Breaking news is delivered fastest on Twitter and the Internet. We watch the cable news nets for POV news analysis and entertainment. We watch CNBC for the same reason.

    For example, I always watch the monthly job numbers release on CNBC because I enjoy the debate by the ‘expert’ pundits; not because it’s breaking there first.

  4. danoregon Says:

    Business talking heads are just like the THs on cable news and sports channels. If they really had anything of value to say, they would have a job that prevented them from sharing their wisdom with the masses.

  5. LynnLGM Says:

    ^ That’s actually brilliant.

  6. LynnLGM Says:

    It’s like Bob Beckel. He consulted a candidate who lost in an unprecedented landslide, but he’s Fox’s go-to liberal. That’s funny.

  7. “but he’s Fox’s go-to liberal.”

    ^^The FNC ‘go to liberal’ bench is a pretty shallow pool and, aside from Joe Trippi, mostly made up of those who can’t get gigs on other networks.

  8. LynnLGM Says:

    Yep, and my sense from Beckel is that he’s not even trying, anymore. He’s the resident rodeo clown.

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