10/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Americans Turn To CNBC To Explain Financial Crisis

The week of Sept. 14 was the highest-rated one in CNBC's 19-year history, with 502,000 viewers during the business day (counted as the 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours by CNBC). Last week the ratings remained high, with an average 441,000 viewers through Thursday.

Mark Hoffman, the president of CNBC, said the network had focused for years on "the delicate balance in business between fear and greed.

"When there's an aggressive move to one extreme or the other CNBC engagement surges," he said. "Through much of this crisis fear has beat greed silly."

As Tom Brakke, an investment firm consultant, put it in a blog post last week, the viewer impulse was perhaps "the same basic instinct that attracts onlookers to a car crash."

The ratings have also soared for the Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC in recent weeks. (Presumably they have also increased for the business channels Fox Business Network and Bloomberg, but their ratings are not publicly reported by Nielsen.

Business pundits are suddenly in demand: CNBC reporters have contributed daily to the "NBC Nightly News," and Fox Business Network hosts have appeared on "20/20" and "The View."

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