Taking on CNBC, the market leader in business television, Roger Ailes told the Wall Street Journal this week, will be like "our guys" versus the Germans on D-day, or like the American civil war, where Ulysses S. Grant started out a failure and a drunk, but triumphed in the end. News Corporation's new business channel starts broadcasting on October 15th. Mr Ailes, who is chairman of News Corp's Fox Television Stations Group, is often criticised, not least for his outrageous pronouncements, normally on politics. But this time his views should be taken seriously.
News Corp has a history of breaking into television markets against all the odds. Its original Fox broadcast network set the pattern in the 1990s. Later Fox News, a cable channel, triumphed against the incumbent, CNN, by presenting news in a livelier style, with a more patriotic and conservative spin.
Fox now has its sights on business television, which can be lucrative. CNBC, owned by General Electric, makes a profit of more than $400m a year, according to Richard Greenfield of Pali Research. Its money comes from cable subscriptions and from selling advertisers an audience of rich businesspeople. Only 246,000 people watch CNBC on average during the business day in America according to Nielsen. But they have an average net worth of $2.7m. Apart from Bloomberg Television, which caters mainly to people with Bloomberg data terminals, CNBC has had no competition since CNNfn, a spin-off from CNN, closed in 2004.
How will Donald Trump’s first 100 days impact YOU? Subscribe, choose the community that you most identify with or want to learn more about and we’ll send you the news that matters most once a week throughout Trump’s first 100 days in office. Learn more