CNN’s flashy new morning show co-hosted by Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins bombed in its debut episode on Tuesday.

Despite heavy promotion from the network, “CNN This Morning’s” first show drew a mere 387,000 viewers and averaged 71,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 age demographic, according to Nielsen ratings.

By comparison, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” amassed 793,000 viewers head to head from 6 to 9 am ET. Meanwhile, Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” came out on top, averaging nearly 1.5 million viewers.

No show across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News ranked lower than Lemon’s program on Tuesday.

Dubbed “CNN This Morning,” the broadcast was pitched as the left-leaning network’s re-entry into the competitive morning show landscape, and was heralded by Lemon as a “promotion” amid reports that he was being demoted. The anchor had been moved from his now-cancelled 10 p.m. primetime show to share the spotlight with two other hosts.

On set :CNN This Morning, new morning show featuring Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow
No show across CNN, MSNBC or Fox News ranked lower than “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.
On set with Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow. The three hosts are conducting a video interview with Hillary Clinton whose image appears on a large screen.
CNN’s new morning show is part of a larger shake up at the ratings-challenged network by CEO Chris Licht.

Despite big promises from CNN boss Chris Licht, who is known for his prowess in revamping morning programming, “CNN This Morning” even failed to match the previous average of “New Day,” the show it replaced. Co-hosted by John Berman and Brianna Keilar, “New Day” averaged 404,000 viewers in October.

When asked about the poor debut, a spokesman from CNN said: “There’s not a morning show on television today that was a ratings success on day one. Reporting on ratings failures or successes of an entirely new program after a single day is absurd and cheap.”

The rep added: “That’s not the way this works. We’re entirely focused on developing a smart, compelling and relevant show that’s already having outsized impact. Anyone pushing an alternative narrative knows what a threat this talent lineup is.”

Licht, a seasoned TV producer, who helped launch MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the reboot of “CBS This Morning,” was brought in to shake up CNN’s ratings-challenged programming.

Aside from moving Lemon to the morning, Licht gave Jake Tapper the network’s coveted 9 p.m. slot, formerly occupied by the disgraced Chris Cuomo.

But earlier this week, CNN announced Tapper would move back to his 4 p.m. time slot amid tanking ratings.


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Tyler Cowan