Ratings woes may have led to departure

NEW YORK — After seeing CNBC through boom and bust, executive veepee Bruno Cohen has ankled the stock market-covering cabler.

In a written statement, the network said its six-year veteran would go on a four-month sabbatical and then return to NBC, to which he is under contract for another year.

Cohen will be replaced temporarily by exec David Friend, who previously oversaw CNBC’s morning programming. Ted Shaker, executive producer of “Business Center,” is seen by some as a potential candidate for the post.

As Wall Street sinks deeper into gloom, the once-robust cabler has seen its fortunes dwindle as well. One source close to the situation said Cohen was a scapegoat for the network’s lack of eyeballs, when only a few years earlier, its viewership was toward the top of the cable heap.

“Someone has to take the fall now that ratings have dropped,” the source said. “Viewers don’t want to see how their stocks have tanked.”

Another source attributed the departure to friction with prexy Pamela Thomas-Graham, who became net chief last year.

But on July 15 the cabler jumbled up its primetime sked in hopes of boosting its post-trading hours auds, an effort that in the end didn’t seem to work.

An average amount of 216,000 viewers tuned in during primetime last month, according to Nielsen statistics, down 44% from the previous July. (CNBC does not accept Nielsen ratings as an accurate measure of its aud, citing the fact that many of its affluent viewers watch the net at second homes or offices, which the Nielsens don’t count.)

Yet while the downturn at CNBC could be attributed to pandemic financial woe, other money-related shows such as CNN’s “Moneyline” and Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto” have seen triple-digit audience growth.

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