Saturday, December 17, 2005


As I mentioned here before, changes are coming Monday to CNBC's Squawk Box. They are moving Mark Haines to the 9AM hour to host Squawk on the Street; the other three hours will include more face time new anchors Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla. Joe Kernan and David Faber will still be part of the broadcast as well. Here's the story from USA Today.

I have mixed feelings about the changes to Squawk Box, because I happen to like that show and the whole daytime CNBC lineup. I've been a fan of CNBC, and business news coverage in general, for many years. I guess CNBC figured it was getting killed in the ratings so it had to do something. They have Bloomberg TV and even Fox News breathing down their necks in business news coverage. Both rivals offer a very different approach to business news than CNBC. Bloomberg gets a lot of cudos for a dead-serious approach that concentrates on breaking news and information, while Fox News' energetic business coverage is in-your-face and opinionated (Neil Cavuto). Both approaches have their fans and have been drawing viewers away from CNBC's middle-ground approach. I think Bloomberg TV is supposed to be ahead of CNBC in New York City these days, or something like that. I don't know if that's a true story or not, but I do know that channel has made a lot of gains.

I get the sense that CNBC is now inching closer towards the Fox News model; they're adding some more opinion in the morning, plus they have the absolutely manic wild man Jim Cramer. I think they realize they need to be ready to defend themselves against Fox News and their plans to start up their long-rumored new business news channel, because Fox News isn't likely to steal the Bloomberg TV fans away. Nope, Fox Business News will ultimately go after the folks who like their financial news to be entertaining, so they're after the people who watch CNBC.

No wonder CNBC has to bet its hat on Jim Cramer! Cramer's ratings are quite good, by the way, he's the number one show on CNBC. People tune in because he's a maniac and he's smart. He throws chairs around on the air, but at least you might learn something that can make you money.

That's where I see this going with CNBC and no wonder they're making these sorts of changes now, so they are ready for a big fight with Fox News.

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