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Fox Business edges out CNBC in business day ratings wars

For the second year in a row, Fox Business won over more viewers in business day viewers and market hours viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

For the second year in a row, Fox Business won over more viewers in business day viewers and market hours viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo in 2019. (Photo by Ron Przysucha)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo in 2019. (Photo by Ron Przysucha)

When it comes to the leader in business news, Fox Business Network has an edge on CNBC.

For the second year in a row, Fox Business Network outperformed its peers with higher overall viewership during the business day, including the key hours when the New York Stock Exchange is open, according to ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

The top two business programs during 2023 were “Varney & Co,” hosted by Stuart Varney, and Larry Kudlow’s self-titled afternoon show, Nielsen ratings revealed. The pre-market show “Mornings with Maria,” hosted by former CNBC journalist Maria Bartiromo, edged out CNBC’s “Squawk Box” for the first time since 2018, the ratings showed.

During the business day, Fox Business Network grabbed an average of 200,000 viewers per day, or 6 percent more than CNBC, according to Nielsen ratings. Business day viewing takes place between the hours of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time and 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Fox Business Network saw a 1 percent advantage over CNBC during the key trading hours of the day (9 a.m. Eastern Time to 4 p.m. Eastern Time), with an average of around 194,000 viewers tuning in each day during the year, Nielsen ratings provided by the network showed.

A spokesperson for Fox News Media, the parent subsidiary of Fox Business Network, provided the following breakdown of the channel’s success throughout the year, as reflected in the Nielsen ratings:

During market-open hours, [Fox Business Network/FBN]’s “Varney & Co.” outpaced CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” with viewers (260,000 total viewers) for the second straight year and the sixth yearly win in the show’s history. In the network’s post-market coverage, Larry Kudlow’s eponymous “Kudlow” was once again the most-watched business news program in cable, garnering a 63 percent advantage over CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” The program drew in 278,000 viewers, the second consecutive year it surpassed its competition.

For the first time since 2018, Maria Bartiromo’s “Mornings with Maria” (weekdays, 6-9 AM/ET) crushed CNBC’s “Squawk Box” during the critical pre-market hours, nabbing 110,000 viewers, its third highest-rated year ever. Neil Cavuto’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” (weekdays, 12 PM/ET) drew in 163,000 total viewers, the newly minted “The Big Money Show” (weekdays, 1 PM/ET) scored 137,000 viewers, “Making Money” (weekdays, 2 PM/ET) saw 146,000 viewers and “The Claman Countdown” (weekdays, 3 PM/ET) closed out the trading day seeing 158,000 total viewers.

For the year, nearly all of FBN’s post-market programs posted advantages over CNBC. “The Evening Edit” with Elizabeth MacDonald at 5 PM/ET clobbered CNBC’s “Fast Money/Options Action” with 167,000 viewers and 3 percent year-over-year growth. “The Bottom Line” (weekdays, 6 PM/ET) with Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy, which debuted earlier this year, netted 145,000 viewers, a 12 percent advantage over CNBC’s “Mad Money.” Notably, Jim Cramer’s Mad Money has not won in the 6 PM/ET time slot since 2021. The 7 PM/ET encore airing of Kudlow, which began in May and was previously Kennedy, averaged 100,000 viewers, besting CNBC’s newest program, “Last Call” by 12 percent. Friday evening program Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street (Fridays, 7-7:30 PM/ET) set a 4 percent advantage over CNBC, while “Barron’s Roundtable” (Fridays, 7:30-8 PM/ET) remained a fan favorite program.

The network’s prime time programming slate, “FBN Prime,” presented its fourth season in 2023, introducing the iconic series COPS to the lineup on Thursdays and Fridays from 8-11 PM/ET. The program was an immediate hit, notching double and triple digit year-over-year growth (up 115 percent with total viewers [year-over-year/YOY]; up 422 percent with the 25-54 [demographic] YOY; up 188 percent with the 35-64 demo YOY) and delivering its highest rated year since 2020 while CNBC delivered its lowest rated year since 2005. 

Amongst affluent audiences in the advertiser-friendly 25-54 demo, the network delivered 11 of the top 20 cable news programs. “American Built” (Mondays, 9 and 9:30 PM/ET) ranked first with an average median income of $195,400. Mornings with Maria, Varney & Co., Maria Bartiromo’s “Wall Street” and The Claman Countdown, each placed amongst the top 10 programs and earned an average income of $140,200 or more. Making Money, “Mansion Global,” CAVUTO: Coast to Coast, The Big Money Show, Barron’s Roundtable and Kudlow rounded out the top 20 with an average income of $129,800 or more.

The Fox Business Network is operated by Fox News Media, the subsidiary of Fox Corporation that also operates the Fox News Channel. On Friday, The Desk reported Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the eighth year in a row, as reflected by Nielsen ratings.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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