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Why Is “Squawk Box” Struggling?

First on TVNewser: The ratings for CNBC’s morning flagship, “Squawk Box,” have been steadily declining in recent months, Nielsen ratings data indicates. Meanwhile, Steve Friedman completed his consulting duties at CNBC last week, two sources have confirmed to TVNewser.

One industry insider called Squawk Box’s numbers a “staggering ratings free fall.” “Looks like evening aren’t the only things scratching over at CNBC,” the insider said. The show averaged just 94,000 viewers in January, down 43% from last year. In the 25-54 demo, the show scratched, with 39,000 viewers — down 61%. Ratings for Squawk Box typically increase each half hour during the morning. The 9:30am hour averaged 185,000 viewers in January.

“Kernen and the crew used to be the toast of Wall Street and now they’re gasping for air,” the insider said. “If someone would have told me four years ago that a signature show Squawk Box was getting hash marks, I would have told them they were out of their minds.”

In response to the ratings, a 30 Rock insider said today: “Squawk Box is the flagship show on a very profitable network. Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker will make sure all of CNBC gets better.”

During the 7 to 9am time slot, Fox & Friends averages 972,000 viewers, while American Morning delivers 433,000 and Imus averages 364,000.

Jeff Zucker asked Friedman to boost “Squawk Box” back in November. Observers have speculated that Friedman could be in line for the “presidency” of CNBC. Friedman’s work with the show may have ripple effects that are just now becoming evident…

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