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CNBC – the cable news network watched for its in-depth coverage of the financial markets – is fully committed to reality television in primetime.
“This is a giant commitment,” said Jim Ackerman, CNBC senior vp primetime alternative programming, who joined the network early last year in the newly created position.
The network announced Monday during its session at the semiannual Television Critics Associaiton press tour that it has picked up two more unscripted series: Family Business Project and The Fix. They join Treasure Detectives and The Car Chasers, which bow March 5 at 9 and 10 p.m., respectively. Family Business Project (working title) is from Michael Davies’ Embassy Row and has family businesses competing for a cash prize in front of a panel of judges and a studio audience, with the studio audience ultimately deciding on which family takes home the cash prize. The Big Fix is from Justin Hochberg and Charlie Ebersol’s The Company and follows business turnaround master Marcus Lemonis as he doles out $2 million of his own money to various struggling business.
Ackerman, a veteran of VH1 who got his start in TV news at NBC News, added that CNBC executives are prepared to be patient in building a primetime identity for the network, which has struggled to attract significant audiences at night even as it has long been the go-to financial news network during the day.
“We understand how difficult it is to build hit shows,” said Ackerman. “But you just need one, and it really can sort of change the profile of a channel.”
The network will need to market its primetime programming to viewers – especially women – who may not be accustomed to tuning to CNBC after the markets close.
Noting that CNBC’s daytime audience is “very elite” (i.e. high-earning professionals), Ackerman acknowledged that CNBC Prime needs to be “more populous, much larger.”
“We’re not dabbling. We’re not dipping our toe in,” he said. “We think we’re doing compelling shows. But this is a big-time commitment. It’s a big-time commitment in terms of programming dollars, in term of the marketing, and in terms of the time we’re going to give it.”
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