The new "Early Show" crew earned almost exactly the same ratings in their debut week that the team they replaced earned in the same week last year, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers.
The show averaged 3.07 million total viewers last week, versus 3.08 million for the equivalent week last year, Jan. 4-8. The numbers reflect prelimary numbers for the show's time periods. Final numbers will be released later this week.
Do the flat numbers mean the switch was pointless? It's too early to say. The ratings indicate that the network didn't enjoy a significant bump from viewers curious about the new crew — but also didn't suffer a hit from the departure of viewers loyal to the old one.
Also read: Dave Price Exits 'Early Show' Early
The network replaced the "Early" team in its bid to catch up to ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today." Ratings for the top-rated "Today" generally double those of the third-place "Early Show."
ABC's "GMA" had 4.3 million viewers last week, and NBC's "Today" had 5.29 million. In the same week last year, "GMA" had 4.6 million viewers, and "Today" had 6.04 million.
CBS replaced Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez with the show's former Saturday morning team of Chris Wragge and Erica Hill. Weather anchor Dave Hill was replaced by Marysol Castro.
CBS declined to comment on the ratings.
ABC News President Ben Sherwood, former executive producer of "Good Morning America," said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour said it was too early to judge the competition.
"I haven't watched enough of the new team at 'The Early Show' to tell you what I think yet. It takes a while in any morning television program to sort of get a sense of the group and what they're going to do," he said, before adding: "I think that 'Good Morning America' has a big opportunity."
The preliminary numbers average ratings of all network affiliates in the time period. Most affiliates aired the network morning programs, but some may have aired their own programming, which would be averaged into the preliminary numbers. The final numbers will not include any local programming that may have aired.