Brian Jones was promoted to president of Fox Business Network this week and takes over a channel with suddenly loft expectations, as it ended the month of April ahead of rival CNBC among total Business Day viewers for the seventh consecutive month.
Jones, who was the network’s executive vice president, will take on the responsibilities of ex-Fox News co-president Bill Shine, who stepped down on Monday amid ongoing sexual harassment allegations. Shine was largely responsible for a ton of FBN’s success, but Jones was on his staff when the network was revamped in 2014. In fact, Jones has been second in command at FBN from the time it launched in 2007 and was considered Shine’s right-hand man.
This past Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s business section had a front-page article headlined, “Comcast’s CNBC faces a big threat from Fox Business Network.” CNBC executives surely took notice, especially considering the network’s parent company, Comcast, is based in Philadelphia.
This type of headline would have been unthinkable just a few short months ago as CNBC is a legacy brand that dominated the financial television industry since 1989, while Fox Business has only been around for nine years.
April’s viewership win included a double-digit increase for all of the network’s Business Day programming. FBN also had six of the top 10 business programs on television, with “Lou Dobbs Tonight” picking up its 12 straight month as the most-watched business show in cable news.
In April, FBN averaged 181,000 Business Day viewers compared to 160,000 for CNBC. Among the key demo of adults age 25-54, CNBC prevailed, 29,000 compared to 23,000.
CNBC dropped Nielsen as its rating agency in 2015 and network executives quickly point out that it does not accurately measure its core audience, which comes in offices and on trading floors. CNBC insiders point to the key demo and affluent viewers when shooting down FBN’s recent surge among total viewers.
Regardless of the measurable, it will be interesting to see if FBN continues to grow without Shine.