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Why Low TV Ratings Are a Bullish Sign


The masses want nothing to do with stocks, and that is a good sign.

The CNBC ratings for last month were just released and they are ugly. I was on last Friday and the results for that day aren't in yet, but I'm not holding my breath. Still, the positive news to all of this is I find it incredibly bullish.

We are in the midst of a huge bull market yet no one seems to care. The whole thing is just "rigged" and we're only up because Ben Bernanke is printing money. Never mind the record earnings, low inflation, and low multiples. The masses want nothing to do with stocks, and that is a good sign.

I just was getting started in the market back during the tech bubble in 1999. But I've heard stories. Everyone loved CNBC, everyone loved the anchors, and everyone loved stocks. Guests were rock stars and it was like Cheers – everyone knew your name. Well, that isn't the case so much anymore.

I actually touched on low ratings last August and surmised it was a good sign. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) is up 15% over the past 12 months, so something must be working.

According to the New York Post, CNBC ratings are at a 20-year low, attracting just 37,000 viewers aged 25-54 over a 24-hour period. Here's what they found:

Particularly hard-hit programs were Fast Money, Mad Money and The Kudlow Report - each of which saw all-time lows in total viewers this month.

Larry Kudlow's 7 p.m. show fell the most, recording just 20,000 viewers in the key advertiser demographic, a 53% decline.

Similarly, Jim Cramer's Mad Money was off 38%, to 25,000 viewers, in the key demo. Street Signs was the only show to retain its audience.

Rival Fox Business Network drew an average of 10,000 viewers an hour in the same key demo. It also saw viewership declines.
No doubt that is ugly. At the same time, the CNN evening news audience has been cut in half the past 20 years. People use Twitter or the Internet now for their news. Backing this up, traffic was up 25%, while its TV ratings suffered.

The overall low sentiment doesn't stop there. Consumer confidence came in at just 81.5 in August. This is well beneath the 145 peak in 2000 and 115 peak in 2007.

To sum it all up, for the SPX to be close to all-time highs and see confidence and TV ratings this low, it is another sign this bull market could have a long way to go.

This article by Ryan Detrick, CMT was originally published on Schaeffer's Investment Research.

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