Despite efforts by CNN boss Chris Licht to shake things up since he took the helm last year, the cable news network remains mired in dismal ratings that put it far behind industry leader Fox News.
One of Licht’s most notable moves as CEO involved moving long-time evening anchor Don Lemon to mornings, where he has co-hosted a program with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins since November.
Although the shift was widely interpreted as a demotion, Lemon addressed the issue in an on-air segment on his primetime show shortly after the announcement was made.
“For all of those that are out there saying, ‘Oh, he moved me without my …’ — he asked me and I said yes,” he claimed in reference to the conversation with Licht. “I could have said no. … I was not demoted; none of that. This is an opportunity for me to create something around me and I get to work with two great ladies, who you know.”
Right out of the gate, “CNN This Morning” seemed destined to be a rating disaster.
Its debut, which ostensibly benefited from extensive promotion on the network, received roughly 387,000 viewers, of which only about 71,000 were in the prime 25-54 age group preferred by advertisers.
By comparison, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” received well over twice as many viewers, and “Fox & Friends” came out on top with almost 1.5 million viewers.
Over the course of the entire day, “CNN This Morning” performed worse than any other program on any of the three cable news networks.
While some programs take some time to get into a groove and attract a loyal audience, that does not appear to be the case for Lemon and his co-hosts. Nearly three months after its launch, “CNN This Morning” recently hit an all-time low.
Last week’s viewership hovered around 331,000 while “Fox & Friends” remained a dominating force, drawing an audience about four times larger. “CNN This Morning” drew about 65,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic, or just over one-third the number that its Fox News Channel rival reported.
Of course, Lemon is not the only problem for CNN’s lineup and the network is reportedly considering even more changes to its programming in an effort to reverse its current trajectory.
CNN wants comedian to save it from being a joke in prime time ratings war: report https://t.co/dN34he1kLu pic.twitter.com/VRlGtzLiyc
— New York Post (@nypost) January 16, 2023
Although the network narrowly edged out MSNBC in average primetime demo viewers with about 93,000 — it was far behind Fox News Channel’s average of 256,000.