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Slow Ratings Start for Fox Business Network

After less than three months on the air, Fox Business Network is averaging a mere 6,000 viewers in daytime and 15,000 in primetime, according to Nielsen Media Research data obtained by B&C.

The channel launched Oct. 15 in 30 million homes, the majority of them on digital tiers. New York is one of the only markets where the channel is available on analog systems.

Market-leader CNBC is available in 94 million homes and averages 284,000 viewers in total day and 238,000 in primetime. The network also boasts some of the highest CPM (cost per thousand homes) rates in the industry thanks to it wealthy viewer profile.

FBN executives downplayed the low numbers, saying that they are indicative of the network’s nascent status and dearth of coverage on basic cable.

Kevin Magee, executive vice president of FBN, suggested that CNBC leaked FBN’s ratings to the media.

“They spent dearly to get [FBN ratings], which is pretty crazy.” he added. “I’m sure the hundreds of people who were laid off by [NBC Universal chief] Jeff Zucker during the holidays would appreciate CNBC spending $25,000 per week on ratings information from a 10-week-old network. I think it shows how uber-concerned they are about us.”

It’s not unusual for networks to purchase ratings information on competing networks from Nielsen, but sources disputed the amount quoted by Magee as too high. NBCU had no comment.

The challenge for FBN is penetration.

“We’re making headway,” Magee said, “but it’s not a 10-week process. We’ll be further along in a couple of months, but it’s a tough slog.”

FBN successfully appealed to the keepers of the remote control on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, where the network is now seen on about one-half of TV screens. The other half are still tuned to CNBC.