”Upcoming programming changes likely to make matters worse,“ an insider tells TheWrap
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Boy, the hits keep on coming for CNN’s semi-new CEO Chris Licht — and we don’t mean the network’s lineup.
CNN just notched its lowest ratings in nine years across all its day parts for the week of Jan. 16 through Jan. 22, 2023, according to Nielsen averaging just 444,000 viewers in primetime, 93,000 in the all-important age 25-54 news demographic and 417,000 in viewers and 80,000 in the demo for total day. It’s the first time since May 2014 that the network failed to reach 450,000 viewers.
By comparison, during the same period Fox News drew 1.4 million viewers and 176,000 in the demo while MSNBC notched 629,000 total viewers and 69,000 in the demo. In primetime, Fox News had 2 million viewers, 256,000 in the demo and MSNBC had 943,000 viewers and 91,000 in the demo.
Some especially troublesome news out of this week’s Nielsen numbers is that Licht’s primary programming move, “CNN This Morning,” also suffered the lowest week since its launch just three months ago. It averaged just 331,000 viewers while “Fox & Friends” had nearly 1 million and “Morning Joe” drew 760,000.
Licht hand-picked CNN’s Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins to host the rebooted morning show. But so far that trio is failing to grow its audience. An individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap exclusively last week that EP Eric Hall was being reassigned to “CNN Tonight,” hosted by Laura Coates, signaling that Licht is aware that the show needs to perform better.
Insiders also told TheWrap that even hosts Lemon, Harlow and Collins “seem to be growing frustrated” over the direction.
“The show can’t decide strategically what exactly it is, so it’s trying to be everything which can create whiplash for a viewer when segments seem off-brand in tonality,” one insider said. “The audience for morning news on network TV is different than the cable news audience and since we’re not gaining new viewers we definitely need to retain our legacy ones”
As TheWrap previously reported, CNN will soon be launching a revamped daytime slate and anchor trios that aim to take a “fresh approach” to its daytime programming through two new programs.
The network will host a standalone weekday 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Eastern block anchored by John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner out of CNN’s New York studios, while the subsequent 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Eastern standalone program will be hosted by Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez and Jim Sciutto.
But Insiders we spoke to fear that things are unlikely to get better. “Upcoming programming changes are likely to make matters worse,” one insider told us.
CNN representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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