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Up the Ante

Maria Bartiromo joins WSJ Report 11/14/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

When CNBC President and CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham raises her glass at an
elite party this Thursday, she'll toast Maria Bartiromo's leap to
syndication.

In September, Bartiromo, one of CNBC's top stars, took the helm of NBC
Universal's The Wall Street Journal
Report
, replacing Consuelo Mack. The tradeoff: leaving her post as
the first woman to report the news from the floor of the New York Stock
Exchange, though she'll keep her daily CNBC 3 p.m. show,
The Closing Bell. And she'll continue to
contribute to the cable network.

“This was a big opportunity for me. I backed off my CNBC duties
because I needed time and energy to plan the show and get the best guests I
could,” Bartiromo says. So far, guests have included embattled Merck CEO Ray
Gilmartin and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

WSJ Report kicked off the season with
several upgrades, including a big timeslot jump on WNBC New York, where it
moved from 5:30 a.m. to noon. “It was buried in a time period where it
didn't get a lot of attention,” says Frank Comerford, general manager and
president of WNBC. “New York City is the home of the financial marketplace.
We have a huge opportunity with a talent like Maria to make this a good growth
story for us.”

Other markets would agree: Dallas; Greenville-Ashville-Spartanburg,
S.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; Panama City, Fla.; Salt Lake City and Tri
Cities, Fla., have upgraded the show, which has seen a small uptick since its
relaunch. Still, it's averaging only a 0.7 rating season to date, per
Nielsen. However, in two key markets, New York and Washington, it's faring
much better. Both centers house the show's core audience of educated
households with $100,000-plus incomes. In both markets, the show is up 27% and
26% year-to-year, to 1.4 rating/9 share and 1.9/3 share, respectively.

“I personally will be disappointed if we don't get this show north
of a 1.0 or a 1.1 national rating in the first year,” says Chris West, vice
president of West Coast sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television.

To aid that effort, NBC Universal is creating 30- to 60-second
interstitials, called “Maria's Money Tips,” to promote the show. Stations
can sell sponsorships of the interstitials, which will be available after the
November sweeps, to local advertisers.

November