Mixing Politics and Business, Maria Bartiromo Leads Ratings Rally at Fox Business

By Mark Joyella 

During a recent interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump broke away from a conversation about corporate tax reform to compliment Bartiromo on the success of her show, Mornings with Maria. “A lot of my friends are watching your show now,” Trump said.

Nielsen ratings data show it’s not just Trump’s friends who’ve discovered Bartiromo’s morning show, which marks its first anniversary today. “I just had a meeting with my boss last week. We’re up 120 percent and the demo is up 140 percent,” Bartiromo told TVNewser. “So the show has been gaining great traction.”

Bartiromo moved to the 6 a.m. ET slot amid a full-scale programming shift that saw morning man Don Imus leave the network after six years. Neil Cavuto and Trish Regan rounded out the network’s new-look daytime lineup.

“Replacing Imus with a business news morning show anchored by Maria Bartiromo and adding Neil Cavuto to two hours in daytime enables FBN to have tremendous depth,” said Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes at the time. “We’re also pleased to welcome Trish Regan and her fresh take on economic trends which will complement our coverage.”

Since last June, ratings across the board have increased more than 100 percent, and the network recently added 1.5 million subscribers as FBN moves ever closer to the full distribution mark. “It’s very exciting right now. Ratings are strong,” Bartiromo told TVNewser. “We’re building something.”

Maria-Bartiromo_2016%20headshot1Two months after her morning debut, Fox Business scored its first morning win in the demo over CNBC.

Part of the success of Mornings with Maria, Bartiromo believes, has been finding the right balance of politics and business. “It’s really about putting your finger on and getting the pulse of what people are talking about and how they are living their lives,” she said. “We’re constantly thinking about what the audience wants to know.”

At CNBC, where Bartiromo worked for 20 years until her departure in 2013, the focus, she says, was markets, markets and markets. “One of the reasons I decided to leave CNBC and come over to Fox was (CNBC) was too stock market-centric–so focused on what the stock market is going to do. We take a much broader approach. We’re doing markets, there’s no doubt. It’s just not 24/7. It’s just not the only thing we’re doing.”

What FBN is doing–a lot–is covering the 2016 campaign. Bartiromo believes politics fits right into the network’s sweet spot, mixing coverage of news and business. “I don’t see another channel that’s able to walk this balance with markets and politics,” she told TVNewser. “I feel Fox has great credibility not just on business, but the political story.”

So when Trump calls in to Mornings with Maria, he’s asked about the campaign–but also about his corporate tax policy, and how it would affect viewers’ wages. “Looking at what Apple stock is going to do tomorrow, that’s not what is going to resonate with the majority of people,” Bartiromo said.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 7.18.16 AMBartiromo credits her show team, a smart collection of regular panelists (including Dagen McDowell, Sandra Smith and Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerry Baker) on set, along with Fox executives who are crystal clear about the network’s mission. “Roger Ailes, Bill Shine, the entire team at Fox has just been really great. They have a vision, they communicate that vision, and everybody gets on board,” Bartiromo said as she prepared to begin her second year as the network’s lead-off star in the morning.

“I love it. I feel absolutely great about it.”