CNBC likes to tout its tagline that it’s “First in Business Worldwide.” And while it may be true that the financial news network has the biggest reach among its peers, viewers continue to slip through CNBC’s fingers.
In case you don’t like mixed metaphors, I’ll just give it to you straight: Nielsen stats show CNBC’s ratings for the quarter were the lowest since 2005.
That says it all about where investors are at these days.
CNBC, part of NBCUniversal and now owned by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), is one of the biggest outlets in business news, reaching nearly 100 million households in the U.S. and countless offices, restaurants and hotels. But reach doesn’t matter in a battered market like this and high uncertainty about the eurozone, American unemployment and other issues. A lot of folks have no money, and many more have absolutely no interest in investing news right now.
The proof is in the specifics of some of CNBC’s stock-focused shows, based on some numbers I got a hold of:
- Squawk Box (6-9 a.m.) is supposed to prime traders before the bell. The show posted its lowest rated its time block since Q4 2006.
- The Closing Bell (3-5 p.m.) is supposed to wrap up the day’s action. The slot posted its fifth-lowest rating in total viewers and second-lowest ratings in the key 25-54 demographic since 1997.
- Fast Money (5-6 p.m.) is focused almost specifically on swing trading stocks. That time slot showed the lowest rating for the 25-54 demo since 1997 — and lowest in total viewers since Fast Money launched in 2006.
Of course, out of respect for CNBC it must be noted that it’s not their fault the market is miserable, and bad ratings don’t necessarily reflect bad shows. After all, we don’t blame builders like Pulte (NYSE:PHM) or Lennar (NYSE:LEN) for causing the housing crisis with poorly made homes.
It’s also worth noting that many cable networks are experiencing a viewership drain as many younger folks take their eyeballs to the Internet — and CNBC is hardly ignoring the move to online content. Its website gets some 8 million unique visitors every month, and a shrewd partnership with Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is teaming up the megasite Yahoo Finance with CNBC to tap into an even more massive chunk of the financial media audience.
But for whatever reason, investors are tuning out CNBC on their TV sets. That’s further proof that the market is jaded, that volume will remain low in the summer and that most investors are scared or nervous about what to do next.
I admittedly have a vested interest in the financial media, so I’m closely watching these numbers to see how my readers are feeling right now and how my friends in the biz are faring. But if you’re an investor, you should watch engagement metrics like this, too. It’s pretty telling about where your peers are at — and whether they’re seeking investment opportunities and guidance, or simply giving up.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com, and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, Jeff Reeves did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.