CNBC, Fox Business Will Vie for Business-News Viewers on Election Night

Brian Steinberg
·3 min read

Political junkies aren’t the only ones who will have more TV programming than they can possibly watch on Election Night.

Two of the better-known business-news outlets, CNBC and Fox Business Network. plan to keep coverage going well after the market closes Tuesday, the better to explain to viewers the financial ramifications for the 2020 presidential election. CNBC intends to use its regularly-scheduled 7 p.m. program — an hour led by Shepard Smith — to push viewers to election programming that is expected to run through the wee hours of the morning. Fox Business will kick off its coverage at 7 p.m., led by anchor Neil Cavuto, after a two-hour broadcast from Lou Dobbs. Cavuto will be broadcasting from Fox News Media production studios for the first time in months.

Smith, whose new show, “The News With Shepard Smith” represents one of CNBC’s more aggressive programming initiatives in years, will participate in the coverage that follows, reporting on the latest election results throughout the evening. Carl Quintanilla, Kayla Tausche, Jon Fortt, Scott Wapner, Melissa Lee and Jim Cramer and Eamon Javers and Ylan Mui will guide viewers between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. before CNBC launches a special edition of “Squawk Box” at 5 a.m. eastern. Cavuto will be joined by a rotating group of hosts and correspondents, including some of the network’s opinion personalities, such as Lou Dobbs, Gerry Baker and Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery. Maria Bartiromo, Charlie Gasparino and contributor Robert Wolf will also be on hand. Bartiromo will pick up coverage on Wednesday at 5 a.m. for an extended broadcast.

CNBC intends to “offer context and color from respected voices in the business community who will discuss how the 2020 presidential election will impact American finance, household wealth, taxes, corporate profits and, most importantly, your money.” Fox Business says it will “provide real-time reaction and in-depth analysis of how the night’s results could impact viewers’ finances, Wall Street, and the global economy.” This election-night broadcast will be the first under Lauren Petterson, who was named president of Fox Business in the fall of 2019.

Depending on who’s doing the talking, the two networks vie for business-news aficionados, or play in different universes. CNBC stopped relying on Nielsen in 2015, choosing to rely on a survey of viewer attitudes because many of the outlet’s viewers tend to watch from offices and trading floors, but Fox Business continues to use the measurement service and touts its viewership results.

If CNBC’s intent is to give Smith exposure to wider audiences on Election Night, that may help. His new show has had a muted debut. “The News” in its first month has captured more than double the number of viewers between 25 and 54, the crowd most desired by advertisers, than the repeat of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that plays opposite its time slot on Fox Business. “The News” won an average of 52,000 viewers in the category compared to Dobbs’ 20,000. But the Fox show continues to win more viewers overall, according to Nielsen data: During the same period, Dobbs captured an average of 316,000, compared with an average of 272,000 for Smith.

CNBC’s overall business is larger than that of its rival. CNBC, which has been around longer than its competitor, is projected to generate $516.5 million in distribution revenue and $204.6 million in ad revenue in 2020, according to Kagan, a market-research firm owned by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Meanwhile, the firm sees Fox Business generating $244.6 million in distribution revenue and $51.5 million in ad revenue.

More from Variety

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.