Yep, CNBC (NYSE: GE) still dominates the cable news game, even if it let upstart rival Fox Business News have MLK day — when foreign markets imploded — all to itself. In fact, as Fortune’s Jessi Hempel points out in a glowing piece on the network, the combination of the credit crunch and line-up of high testosterone programming has fueled higher ratings and profits — ad revenue was up 17 percent in 2007, by one outside estimate to, to $211 million. And really, it’s not so slow footed: on the Monday that Bear Stearns fell to $2 per share, the channel had a documentary ready to go that night (no doubt we’ll be seeing this documentary for some time, probably even next MLK day. Hey, it beats another special on Wal-Mart.).
One dull spot: Digital. The network has significantly beefed up its web presence in recent years, housing it at its natural home, CNBC.com and playing up blogs by its on-air talent. But by one measure, it’s still just the 21st-ranked business site, barely ahead of FBN, which comes in at 23. As for the network’s premium service CNBC Plus, a live streaming webcast that was launched in late 2006, 15,000 subscribers pay either $9.95/month or $99/year. That works out to around $1.5 million per year, so a very narrow sliver of the overall pie. (Ed. note: A little more about CNBC Plus: the subscription includes three commercial-free streams — Asia, Europe and US — and VOD.)