Rumor has it that CNBC has "received tens of thousands of complaints" about its new graphics and noises.
I've sampled the new format myself and don't find it nearly as awful as many. That said, I've never been anywhere near a daily viewer of CNBC. And my hunch is that a new format won't be enough to lure back viewers the cable channel has lost in recent years.
I think this is true for two reasons:
First, the ratings bonanza CNBC enjoyed during the tech boom is probably a once-in-a-generation phenomena. It happened at a time when the Wall Street Journal was spelling "new economy" as "New Economy" and all sorts of people talked about stocks (especially internet stocks) everywhere -- at work, at home, at parties, at gyms and the like. It was a mania.
Second, CNBC still suffers from being tagged as "bubble vision," the belief the channel served as a cheerleader for the tech bubble. I believe that charge is largely true (based on my irregular viewing, remember).
In addition to trying to attract viewers, the new graphics and noises may be a strategic move in advance of the much-anticipated launch of a FOX Business Channel. The FOX News Channel isn't shy about using bells and whistles (it introduced the "swoosh" sound effect in cable news), and this looks like an attempt to look like a Roger Ailes-run business channel before he gets his on the tube.
Hey, I've never worked a day of my life in broadcasting. But my humble opinion is that CNBC should play to its strength. FOX will almost certainly start out as an American channel covering American markets. CNBC's strength is that it can already provide viewers with truly GLOBAL business news.
So CNBC should further tie in with CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe and be a true 24-hour business channel. Once the North American markets close, do a couple of hours of "market wrap" shows with one or two roundtables. Then switch to CNBC Asia in time for the markets in the Pacific opening, then switch to CNBC Europe overnight in time for those markets opening.
You can get that now with CNBC World -- a premium channel the network offers. It should scrap this and make CNBC World the basic cable channel.
This also means CNBC should drop nightly talk shows. It made sense to do them when FOX News and MSNBC weren't around. Not now. Either move them to MSNBC (a sister channel), put them on weekends, or get rid of them entirely.
Doing this may not make CNBC a huge ratings winner. It still may not beat a Roger Ailes-led FOX Business Channel. I wouldn't bet against Ailes, but going global gives CNBC a competitive advantage.
If they try to beat Ailes and FOX at doing "news talk" type of programming, they're almost sure to lose.