Eisner's TV Show: Not About Ratings, And Not A Wonderful World

Who knew former media executive gods were immune from traditional TV success yardsticks? Michael Eisner's hosted TV show on CNBC apparently can play by its own rules.

That would be the opinion of a CNBC spokesman.

"This is a program that is hosted by a former CEO for an audience of high-powered decision makers who aren't measured by Nielsen," said the spokesman, in a statement.

Business shows don't need big numbers--only big wallets? That's not true.

CNBC's new prime-time show, "Conversations with Michael Eisner," pulled up a scant 95,000 viewers in its Tuesday prime-time debut. That's dandruff on the lapel of Fox News' prime-time programs, which typically get 1 million to 2 million viewers.

The surprise is that CNBC, in this particular case, has suddenly given up on getting more viewers for its prime-time shows. I'm sure the producers of "Joey" and "Sons and Daughters" and "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" would like to be measured the same way.



TV is the great equalizer--no matter how many billions you got. There are rules in the capitalist world, the financial ones CNBC covers on a daily basis, and the ones advertisers regularly count on to market their wares. There's no getting away from TV ratings unless you are on PBS. Sorry.

CNBC advertising executives will now have this pitch: "Hey, big decision makers, big business guys, watch our Eisner. You have to admit, this is legend after all. Forget about numbers. Spend with your heart, not your business brain." The result may be a shrinking advertiser list, which may include, say, LearJet, BMW, and Four Seasons Hotels.

Look, we weren't expecting much from Eisner. Sure, he's got a nice brand name among business leaders and financial journalists. No doubt he draws high numbers in the 18-49 viewers with $1 million income and $5 million demo.

Perhaps the show would be better on the weekends--not against tough prime-time Monday to Friday players. But hey, this is Eisner. I'm sure his agent wasn't angling for mickey-mouse weekend time periods.

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