Days After Zero Hedge Report Of Its Plunging Ratings, CNBC Stops Using Nielsen

Tyler Durden's picture

It was less than a week ago when Zero Hedge broke the news that for CNBC, 2014 Was The Worst. Year. Ever.

Much to the embarrassment of CNBC, its staunch defender David Rosenberg, and not to mention its advertisers who realized they overspent substantially for the reach they were promised and received instead, the report promptly went viral.

Rosenberg himself said, when referring to the report, that "Now they [Zero Hedge] have turned their attention to CNBC. I think these guys should subject themselves to a New Year’s resolution: show respect because there are in fact two sides to every debate."

Thanks for the advice, but we will actually continue doing precisely what we do: exposing lies, stupidity and fraud pretty much anywhere we see it. Here's why: five days after our Nielsen-sourced report before the Comcast-owned channel announced it would no longer be subject to the humiliation of Zero Hedge periodically revealing its crashing viewership and, as WSJ revealed today, "CNBC will no longer rely on TV ratings specialist Nielsen to measure its daytime audience, beginning later this year. Instead, it has retained marketing and research firm Cogent Reports for the task."

Two words: "seasonal adjustments"?

A few more words: why rely on a uniform, universally-accepted rating methodology when one can come up with one's own, bought and paid for "adjusted" ratings.

And here are CNBC's own words on why it is doing the stunning move which validates that its viewereship is indeed as low as it could get before the pain for Comcast became unbearable:

For years CNBC and its parent company, Comcast Corp. ’s NBCUniversal, have complained that Nielsen underreports the size and wealth of its audience by failing to track “out of home” viewing in places such as offices and airports.


CNBC’s switch to Cogent is the latest barb for Nielsen, which has faced criticism from media companies that it has been slow to adapt its traditional ratings to changing media consumption habits. While many media companies say they are frustrated with Nielsen, CNBC is the first network to opt out of its ratings.

Zero Hedge readers already know the facts. Here they are from the WSJ:

CNBC’s daytime Nielsen ratings, which always have been relatively small, have fallen sharply over the past decade. In 2014—its least-watched year since 1995—CNBC had an average audience of 177,000 people from the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to Nielsen. That is down 17% from an average of 214,000 viewers in 2004, and it is a drop of 13% from 2013.

It has gotten so bad WSJ is now actively losing leverage, and money, when discussing ads: "Executives at CNBC said they were leaving money on the table with advertisers and they needed to make a change. “Nielsen has never measured us accurately,” said CNBC President Mark Hoffman. “If we can’t count the people the right way we can’t get paid the right way.”"

For those who are unaware, Nielsen generates ratings from a panel of sample households, and those ratings are the currency used by networks and advertisers to determine the value of TV commercials. Which means that the simplest solution is the right one: households no longer watch CNBC for a whole host of reasons. But that is unacceptable, so time to change the methodology, and the ratings provider.

The CNBC arrangement marks the first time Cogent Reports, a unit of Market Strategies International, will be measuring the audience of a TV network. Cogent ratings will be used starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. The company will survey over 1,000 investors and financial advisers on their media habits during the day and use that data to provide ratings for CNBC.


“We talk to people once a week and ask them to report out their behavior,” said Christy White, managing director of Cogent Reports. Ms. White said many of CNBC’s advertisers are also Cogent clients. “They know and use and trust our data,” she said.

And then we send CNBC the invoice for the monthly "rating"?

How are CNBC's two main competitors handling the situation?  Bloomberg TV isn’t measured by Nielsen, and never has been. Fox Business is measured by Nielsen and has no plans to change.

“Bloomberg has the most influential audience any cable TV network delivers,” Bloomberg Television said. “We’ve expanded our distribution to reach viewers on whatever platform they prefer.”


Explaining why Fox Business Network continues with Nielsen, Paul Rittenberg, executive vice president of advertising for the channel, said, “Only using the numbers you like is a little tough to sell.”

But the biggest trick will be convincing advertisers themselves why CNBC is changing the methodology. Needless to say, in a time when everything is moving to "native advertising" and distributed content, it will have a very tought time.

CNBC will still guarantee a rating to advertisers when it switches to Cogent, but it will need to persuade Madison Avenue’s advertising agencies that the numbers are trustworthy.


“Agencies have realized there is a lot of smart research out there that allows you to do business other than Nielsen,” said Sam Armando, a senior vice president at Starcom MediaVest Group Exchange, a media-buying firm. “We will definitely put it through the ringer to make sure what they are doing is sound and usable.”

Completing the picture is CNBC parent Comcast, which two months ago itself admitted advertising revenue is sliding rapidly.

Curious why Q3 revenue at the NBCUniversal segment of which CNBC is
part of at Comcast remained unchanged at $2.255 billion compared to
($2.239 billion in Q3 2013), and why advertising revenue actually dropped by a lofty 4.6% in the quarter compared to a year ago?

Let's find out from the source, shall we. Here is the explanation from the company's earnings release: "For the third quarter of 2014, revenue from the Cable Networks
segment increased 0.7% to $2.3 billion compared to $2.2 billion in the
third quarter of 2013, reflecting a 5.1% increase in distribution
revenue, partially offset by a 4.6% decline in advertising revenue, primarily due to a decline in ratings."

Expect this trend to accelerate sharply in the current quarter.

Luckily, there is always hope that the future brings better ratings. Here is how CNBC is approaching that, via PageSix:

CNBC is trying to find a new audience on gay hookup app Grindr after ratings for the business channel fell to a historic low.



While the NBCUniversal-owned network’s audience has traditionally been Wall Street bankers and avid watchers of the financial markets, after a huge drop in ratings in 2014, television industry insiders are joking that CNBC is now being more creative about attracting hot new viewers.


It is currently running a banner ad for the “All-new CNBC app for iPhone & iPad” on Grindr, which helps users find available gay, bi or curious guys locally.


CNBC’s shiny app features a smiling picture of Carl Quintanilla, but bears little resemblance to Grindr’s app and its somewhat semiclad users with catchy profile names like “PreppyJockDad.”

Good luck CNBC.

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SandiaMan's picture

That'll get the ratings up!

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

When the numbers run against you fudge the numbers. Works every time for those who are desperate to see good numbers.

<How humiliating is it for Wall Street to be putting up record numbers and be met with indifference?>

cossack55's picture

Isn't Cogent a rating agency for GS and JPM?

PartysOver's picture

Ah yes, the Ostrich effect.

The Juggernaut's picture

TV ratings specialist Nielsen was the only way I knew CNBC was still a channel! Thank you Nielson! Also, Jim Cramer sounds like  Bobcat Goldthwait  caught in a blender. 

DeadFred's picture

Cogent may have industry respect but to get those numbers you really want contract with BLS

NoDebt's picture

First thing I would do at CNBC is a little "addition by subtraction" and ditch that hand-waving idiot Cramer.  Even if he still has any viewers (doubtful), I think the whole "I know everything but still lose money for people who watch me" routine is wearing a little thin.  Frankly, I can't believe they haven't been sued over his moronic advice yet.

Pool Shark's picture





What's CNBC?




Keyser's picture

TFF, the chief clown is on CNBC right now justifying their changing rating companies... Cramer's logic, Neilson can't gauge how many CEOs are tuned into CNBC... You can't make this shit up... 


Whoa Dammit's picture

The ratings aren't bad if they are never reported.

Full Soviet!

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Cramer is a manipulative tool. 

Fun Facts's picture

Cramer is for sale to the highest bidder.

Starting to look more and more like Alan Dershowitz too.

froze25's picture

You know Gay people refer to those gay people that use those sites as "gutter trash"

tarsubil's picture

The last I heard was something like 80% of them use it. Public health wants to advertise prevention services on there because the use is so high and universal among that group.

MillionDollarBogus_'s picture

CNBC Ratings Drop to 21 Year Low
Posted By: Mark MelinPosted date: September 05, 2014 04:30:46

It’s hard to exactly determine why CNBC’s viewership is bouncing around near all time lows along with its revenue, but as the recent Nielsen Ratings demonstrate there could be a problem in what some consider the land of Wall Street gloss and cheerleading.

Keyser's picture

The only thing that will bolster CNBC ratings is if all on-air females were required to wear leather and latex... 

Larry Dallas's picture

Um No. Sue Herera looks like she's eaten her adopted kids. No need for that.

TruthInSunshine's picture

cnBSc - the station for 82 year old ED affected pensioners targeted by Extenz & "Ask Chuck" commercials (along with late night Shake Weight infomercials).

...with a viewership bases of 102,000 (lower than public access channels).

At least bring Beaker back along with airing those commercials conning American Evangelicals into donating money to Israelis.

August's picture

>>>The last I heard was something like 80% of them use it.

But there is zero discordance between froze25's satement and your own.

WillyGroper's picture

If they got Kernan to adopt some new roadkill for his head perhaps the ratings would go up or at the very least he'd grow some new majick hair.


JRobby's picture

Nielsen is very expensive to begin with. Especially so if you wish to see improving numbers through the "advanced analysis" they offer....................

Paveway IV's picture

Comcast is tops on my 'most hated companies' list - mostly because they a monopoly broadband provider in so many areas and they spy on their internet user's traffic. 

I have to ask why in hell any Comcast-related company uses that fossil, Neilson, for anything nowdays. Comcast cable TV is two-way almost everywhere. They can tell which channel your set-top box is tuned to and when you change channels. It should be easy to get that information for marketing intel, but then I'm probably assuming way too much basic technical capability for those clowns. 

Does Neilson still try to get people to use some kind of boxes or did they go back to phone surveys?

El Oregonian's picture




C = Can

N = Never

B = Buy

C = Cred

Save_America1st's picture

CNBS will be at the top of the(ir) ratings in no time now!  It's like adjusting GDP and unemployment numbers.  Piece 'o cake.

Stackers's picture

Congrats Tyler. You have now been promoted to the ranks of "they", "some people", "others", and "these guys" often quoted by the media as expert opinions

SilverIsKing's picture

They should add more game shows.

Financial based shows might work.

Like before the market opens on Monday morning 5 girls in bikinis each pick one stock for the week and after the close on Friday, whoever does best gets to keep the bikini on and the other 4 have to lose their bikinis.

Whoever finishes last not only loses her bikini but has to cram her vajay-jay into Cram-er's face. I think this could help ratings.

I know I would watch.

SickDollar's picture

they should have some BTFD commercials/ games too


SafelyGraze's picture

friendly tip for cnbc:

1. limit survey to households that watch cnbc

2. extrapolate

you will find that this methodological approach generates the figures you need for your endeavors


Tebow's picture

Now that is some funny shit! Spot on.

kaiserhoff's picture

I always enjoy your comments.

They are a little nuts, and always irreverant.   Perfect;)

ziggy59's picture

Crap, Nothing But Craps Seaonal Rating Revision in 3, 2, 1....

SoberOne's picture

Their website which is work friendly for me, basically,  just grabs zero hedge headlines but then puts their bullshit spin on it. Endless manipulation on ratings won't save you schmucks. Booya! Sell sell sell.

Abitdodgie's picture

CNBC have a web site ,wow.

nope-1004's picture

Yup, that's exactly what the poor old-school media has become to save research dollars.  And I can confirm that I saw, more than once, one of the morning anchors accessing ZH for 'updates' to a few stories.

The channel is broken, the model outdated,  the formula weak.  Of course, if the market were free, they would have been dead years ago.  The control freaks in power have big problems facing reality.


TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Nielsen is just too Egan-Jonesish for CNBC.

Parrotile's picture

Strangely enough, my employers (VicHealth) block everything (even US / UK / EU National Health / Professional sites), especially under generic log-ins (so-called "kiosk" computers), Yet - ZH is available on ALL machines.

Makes you wonder a little doesn't it, especially seeing as the Network is managed by an ostensibly "US Contractor" . . . . .

Not that I'm complaining - certainly helps tp "Spread the Good Word" to the as-yet "unconverted"!!

scrappy's picture

They are a very fishy fishy group cossack55.

Veronis, Suhler & Associatesled me to...

Related Identities

scrappy's picture,%20leo/

A rhetorical movement study : the Estonian Nationalism Movement by Leo Kivijarv ( Book )


The Iran crisis and international law : proceedings of the John Bassett Moore Society of International Law symposium on Iran Author: Robert D Steele; James P Rutherfurd
scrappy's picture
World War II

With the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, many nationalists in Estonia thought that they would have an opportunity to create an independent country once again, and collaborated with Nazi administration and military units. However, the German treatment of the local population quickly put an end to this.[8]

The Estonian partisans was a military group that took up arms first against the Nazis and later against the Soviets. Interestingly, the Estonian partisans were not only ethnic Estonians, but also Ingrians, Latvians, Russians, and Jews.[9] During World War II, the Estonian partisans fought against the German, and Soviet forces. After the Second World War, Estonian partisans took actions directed against Soviet rule within Estonia. Many members of the Estonian partisans saw themselves as the armed wing of the Estonian people in its struggle for Estonian independence.[10]

Estonian partisans maintains a prominent and symbolic role in Estonian history and the quest for Estonian independence.[11] At the same time it was deemed an insurgent or terrorist group by Soviet historiography.[11]

Niall Ferguson writes that around 2,000 Jews and Romani people were murdered then by Estonian nationalists.[12] Norman Davies in his book "No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945" puts the number of murdered Estonian civilians at between 20,000 and 50,000.[citation needed]

unrulian's picture

Grinder seems like a perfect place to advertise considering their blatant over use of hash tags

knukles's picture

I had to stop and think about that "Grinder" thingamajig for a moment but now I get it.
face in hands crying softly praying for the Rapture... don't worry, John Nelson Darby was just a crank

NotApplicable's picture

Now, how many viewers will Cogent count per bath-house?

kaiserhoff's picture

Going for the crisco crowd.

Seems like a good match.