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It's Not Such a Wonderful World for Eisner Show

Ex-Disney chief draws 95,000 in gabfest debut. But the select few are `high-powered,' CNBC says.

March 30, 2006|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

For Michael Eisner, it's a small audience after all.

Once one of the most feared executives in Hollywood, Eisner's new job as biweekly TV talk show host isn't giving Sean Hannity or Larry King much to worry about.

Eisner, who ran Walt Disney Co. from 1984 to 2005, tanked with the 6 p.m. Tuesday premiere of "Conversations With Michael Eisner," his new show for financial-news cable channel CNBC.

"Conversations" drew just 95,000 total viewers -- including 39,000 in the key 25-to-54 age cohort -- according to Nielsen Media Research.

The program lagged far behind its cable-news competitors, including Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" (1.4 million viewers), CNN's "Larry King Live" (1.1 million), MSNBC's "Rita Cosby Live & Direct" (371,000) and Headline News' "Prime News Tonight" (292,000).

CNBC, owned by NBC Universal, has long struggled with its evening lineup, with previous talk shows starring magazine editor Tina Brown, tennis great John McEnroe and comedian Dennis Miller failing to build audiences.

But the Eisner debut was grim even by the network's standards. Its lead-in, a repeat of comedian Howie Mandel's game show "Deal or No Deal" from NBC, drew 518,000 viewers. That means that fewer than 1 out of 5 "Deal" viewers stuck around to see Eisner, an unusually low ratio.

Eisner's show, whose guests included Martha Stewart and Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer, was panned by critics.

CNBC said the results were better than they appeared.

"CNBC is very proud of 'Conversations With Michael Eisner' and we look forward to its next broadcast on April 26," network spokesman Kevin Goldman said in a statement.

"This is a program that is hosted by a former CEO for an audience of high-powered decision makers who aren't measured by Nielsen."

\o7Collins writes the Channel Island blog on the TV industry for The Times. It can be found at latimes.com/channelisland.

\f7

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