While the world may be reeling in the aftermath of a horrible week for markets, which following today’s largely expected $10 billion additional taper announcement, is only set to get worse (because, oops, the global economy turned out to not be in escape velocity mode as everyone simply confused the artificial level of the S&P 500 with economic output, as usual), one entity is delighted by the recent surge in volatility and market uncertainty: CNBC.
The financial station which most had left for dead after an abysmal 2013, and an end to the year in which the Comcast-owned network barely had 30K viewers in its prime 25-54 demographics (which might explain the male incontinence diaper advertisements), managed to stage a remarkable come back and saw both its broad and target demo audiences post increases (from 113K to 134K for P2+, from 34K to 45K in 25-54). Well, maybe not “remarkable” per se: we use the term loosely. Charting the Nielsen data, here is how CNBC looks as of right now.
Yeah, in retrospect, definitely not remarkable.
Then again, it is distinctly possible that the January pick up is simply seasonal following a sleepy end to the year in which absolutely nothing was allowed to go wrong. As a result, it goes without saying that the correct metric to look at is year over year change. It is here sadly, that not even CNBC is able to score any brownie points with its advertisers: the January 2014 P2+ audience dropped by 21% from 2013, while the 25-54 demo was off by 18%.
Of course: the best way to test a thesis that market volatility is actually good for the permabullish channel is to have vol continue soaring, and if possible send the VIX over 80 a la Lehman: after all who could withstand the sight of Bob Pisani explaining a 50% market drop whily crying.. If not even that manages to boost CNBC viewership to prior year levels, forget its 2007 heyday, then Comcast may as well pull the plug.