On November 10, 2015, Fox Business Network, along with The Wall Street Journal hosted its first Republican presidential primary debate, setting a ratings record for the network with 13.5 million viewers. The debate also delivered 1.4 million concurrent streams, making it the most livestreaming primary debate in history and beating out the 2015 Super Bowl by 100,000 streams. Fox Business Network hosted its second Republican primary debate on January 14, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina with Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo serving as moderators. Both of these primetime debates also included earlier debates featuring presidential candidates who were not ranked as highly in the national polls as well as those based in Iowa or New Hampshire.
Before the network premiered, few specific facts were made public as to the type of programming approach Fox Business would be taking. However, some details emerged as to how it would differentiate itself from its main competitor, CNBC.
On February 24, 2014, Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo debuted on FBN in the 9 a.m. ET timeslot, replacing the final 20 minutes of Imus in the Morning (which itself was truncated from 200 minutes to 180 minutes) and moved Varney & Company (which also expanded to the full 2 hours) down to the 11 a.m. ET time slot.
On September 17, 2012, FBN switched to a letterboxed format on its standard definition feed; simultaneously, all programs began being shown on its HD feed in a full 16:9 picture format, resulting in the removal of the right-side content wing. The network also debuted new graphics on the same day.
At a media summit hosted by BusinessWeek magazine, Rupert Murdoch was quoted as saying CNBC was too “negative towards business”. They promised to make Fox Business more “business friendly”. In addition, it was expected that Fox Business would not be “poaching” a lot of CNBC’s on-air talent in the immediate future, as most key on-air personalities had been locked into a long-term contract. However, that still left open the possibility of the network taking some of CNBC’s other staff, including editors, producers and other reporters. News Corporation, the former parent company of Fox Business and Fox News Channel (until all of Fox’s film and most of its television properties were spun off into 21st Century Fox in June 2013), made a successful bid for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal. However, CNBC stated on air that it had a contract with Dow Jones until 2012. One potential issue down the road is the fact that CNBC operates several news bureaus under the same roof as the Wall Street Journal.
CNBC still wins across the 24-hour viewing period, the 6 a.m.-11 p.m. segment and the 8 p.m-11 p.m. period, according to data from Nielsen, which does not capture out-of-home viewers who might see CNBC during the business day in the workplace.