Tonight at 9 PM, CNBC will launch its new primetime entertainment block, CNBC Prime. In a stark departure from CNBC’s daytime programming, Tuesday evenings will become dedicated to unscripted reality shows, albeit with a business twist.
“At first I looked at shows that I thought would be organic to CNBC, ‘could I do shows set in the Wall Street space?’ I instantly felt that it might be tough, because it isn’t that visual,” Jim Ackerman, senior VP of primetime alternative programming tells TVNewser. “I came across a pitch about these guys that are flipping cars, and I thought that what these guys do is very much akin to what a commodity broker does, but their commodity happens to be very visual, that commodity has a back-story, that commodity has an emotional impact on the people buying and selling it, and I thought, this could work for us.”
That show is “Car Chasers,” which will kick off the Prime block tonight alongside “Treasure Detectives.” CNBC plans to launch eight or nine series by the end of 2013. Still, regular CNBC or business news viewers may be caught off-guard that a network with such a lucrative dayside news schedule would branch out into entertainment.
“We had been building out vertically, business-related content into primetime for the last couple of years,” says Brian Steel, CNBC’s senior VP of public relations. “We have been successful with the long-form documentaries, and some of the out-of-house produced shows like “American Greed,” and candidly, we were coming off the sixth consecutive year of record operating profit, and we thought it was time to try something different, to try and broaden the audience that we already had.”