Fox Business Network is still a work in progress -- now 3.5 years old.
FBN is soon to be a full-time client of The Nielsen Company, making it easier to formally pitch TV advertisers this upfront selling season. However, the viewer information of the News Corp.-owned business net will not be a surprise. Media agency executives have had its viewing data for some time.
Fox has grown in those three years -- but from a very small base of viewers. Fox Business lags far behind the bigger CNBC by many measures.
Consider the recent data: In daytime hours, CNBC has been averaging 53,000 key 25-54 viewers during "business day" hours in the first quarter of 2011; Fox had 11,000. For overall viewers, CNBC is at 219,000; Fox Business News is at 57,000.
Much of the same data is similar in other dayparts. Analyzing the specific time period when the stock market is open -- 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- CNBC was at 55,000 25-54 viewers and FBN was at 8,000. Overall viewers in the time period were at 269,000 for CNBC and 57,000 for FBN.
Looking at a recent period -- the first quarter versus the same period a year ago -- Fox is up 14% among 25-54 viewers, while CNBC is down anywhere from 15% to 20%, depending on the demo. CNBC suffered somewhat because of poorer comparisons, due to higher-rated Vancouver Winter Olympic programming from NBC in February 2010 that ran on the network.
Fox's gains appear to have come the old-fashioned way, adding more cable subscriber distribution, which can instantly tack on more ratings to TV research estimates. Fox Business Network's distribution has almost doubled since its debut -- now at 57.3 million in February 2011, up from 30.0 million in October 2007. The older and more fully distributed CNBC is at 98.5 million. up from 94.9 million.
A 2010 Mendelsohn research survey measuring affluent TV viewers in a given week shows CNBC pulling in almost double the viewers who make $100,000 or more -- 13.1 million -- to Fox Business Network's 5.3 million. (Bloomberg pulls in 2.6 million.)
That said, FBN's bigger sister network, Fox News Network, pulls in more affluent viewers than CNBC in a given week: 14.3 million to 13.1 million. Overall, however, CNN is the leader, per Mendelsohn, with 20.8 million viewers in a given week who make $100,000 or more.