PBS carves its own niche in financial news

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NEW YORK -- When it comes to biz news, don't forget pubcasting.

CNBC's 20th anniversary makes it the longest-running network player in the financial news game, but PBS already celebrated the 30th birthday of its mainstay program "Nightly Business Report" on Jan. 22.

Stuart Zuckerman, NBR's vp of marketing, touts the show's reach, saying the old-school program that is on 250 local TV stations has more viewers than CNBC's flagship shows. National average daily viewers reached 595,000 in early 2008, compared to 403,000 for "Closing Bell" and 256,000 for "Mad Money," both on CNBC.

"I frankly was a little concerned in the fall when the economy started to tank, and newscasts across the industry had it as the lead story," he says. But now he expects NBR to remain buoyant.

NBR co-host Paul Kangas said bull markets are traditionally good for biz news as people are happy to see how they are doing. But they realize today's tough reality requires good information.

"At first, when people see markets plummeting and 401ks getting clobbered, they turn away," says Kangas. "And then the realization comes to them that the only way back is to get smart."

Asked about why viewership seems up across business networks, Zuckerman suggested that a rising tide may float all boats, and that they all seem to have carved out different niches.

"Our show is the post-game highlight show at the end of the business day that also provides context and analysis, while CNBC does more of the play-by-play," he offered as explanation for the edge of the much less flashy and fast-paced NBR over CNBC flagships.

"No frills from us," said Kangas. "We are not slanted in any way. We present the facts the best we can."
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