CNBC’s gamble on giving a show to somebody with a checkered history in the sports betting industry hasn’t paid off quite like the network would’ve wanted. Then again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that CNBC’s push into reality programming has only netted the network mediocre ratings so far.
The controversial, if not highly questionable launch of the sports betting show “Money Talks” is the latest to follow that trend after Nielsens estimated that a meager 127,000 viewers tuned it to watch the premier featuring Vegas handicapper Steve Stevens. That’s a dramatic 40-percent decline from the network’s year-to-date averages in the 10 p.m. timeslot, of which CNBC normally averages around 212,000 viewers. Even more telling was Nielsen’s estimate that only 65,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demographic tuned in to watch the show, 34 percent lower in the said demo than the 99,000 viewers the network usually gets in that time.
The disappointing numbers attributed to Money Talks could point to a palpable disinterest from people who find the show itself questionable, including the choice of having Stevens, a man who claims to have won 71.5 percent of his picks at his own handicapping service, VIP Sports, as effectively, the star of the show.
When it was announced that CNBC was putting its resources in developing and airing the show, a lot of people in the sports betting community raised their eyebrows on the network’s decision to feature Stevens on the show, in large part because of his questionable past that included a conviction stemming from a telemarketing scam in 1999 that milked investors of at least a quarter-of-a-million dollars. Compounding that was his claim of winning 70 percent of his picks, a winning percentage that’s unheard of even among sports betting shops.
And even with all the attention Money Talks received for all the wrong reasons before it debuted, it still wasn’t enough to drive up the ratings for the premier episode, possibly indicating that either the market isn’t interested in what Stevens’ life is like, or they find it hard to believe a show can be centered around a man whose past is about as sketchy as his self-professed talent in winning over 70 percent of his picks.