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CNN’s soon-to-be “re-imagined” morning show is struggling to attract viewers with major changes on the horizon.
A revamped morning show is expected in place of the current version of “New Day,” before the end of the year, but the existing edition isn’t exactly going out on top. “New Day” has averaged a dismal 398,000 total viewers during the month of August, compared to 1.3 million for Fox News’ time slot competition “FOX & Friends.”
“New Day” has also struggled among the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults age 25-54, averaging only 80,000 each morning compared to 212,000 for “FOX & Friends.” The poor August turnout is an improvement from the disappointing program’s quarter-to-date viewership.
"New Day" has averaged a dismal 398,000 total viewers during the month of August. (CNN/Screenshot)
“New Day” averaged only 380,000 total viewers from June 27 through Aug. 25 to trail “FOX & Friends” by a staggering 239% during the third quarter of 2022. Despite ongoing ratings woes, CNN’s next morning show is “still in concept phase” according to an insider.
When Licht first addressed CNN staffers after being tabbed to replace Jeff Zucker, who was forced to resign earlier this year, he suggested some of the network’s beleaguered programs wouldn’t stick around much longer. He had only been on the job for a few weeks in May when he essentially declared “New Day” was circling the drain.
“Here are some specifics we are planning for the fall. First, we will re-imagine our morning show, leveraging our correspondents and unmatched resources in the U.S. and around the world to provide news that viewers need to know as they start their day,” Licht said during the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront presentation to advertisers.
When CNN CEO Licht first addressed staffers after being tabbed to replace Jeff Zucker, he suggested some of the network’s beleaguered programs wouldn’t stick around much longer. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)
Since then, people close to Licht have joked that “fall” lasts well into December when probed for an update.
Licht indicated he wanted CNN to be “a disruptor of the broadcast morning shows in this space” but didn’t offer other details before moving on to other announcements. He’s since been publicly quiet about the long-struggling morning show, but the recent ouster of “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter indicates Licht has begun putting his stamp on the network.
The insider insists no decisions have been made about who will host the overhauled program, and the network has been silent on whether current “New Day” anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar are part of the plans.
Berman is a favorite of CNN rank-and-file staffers and rarely generates negative publicity for the network, whereas Keilar has developed a reputation for conducting combative interviews with conservatives while parroting liberal talking points. Part of Licht’s strategy is putting an emphasis on “news,” and toning down the liberal opinion programming the network became known for during the Trump administration, so many industry watchdogs don’t see where Keilar would fit in once the program gets its looming facelift.
CNN hired Ryan Kadro, a trusted Licht ally who was named senior vice president of content strategy, to help refurbish the morning show. Kadro, who just started at CNN last week, worked alongside Licht at CBS News for years and even succeeded him as executive producer of “CBS This Morning” when Licht was tasked with moving to CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in 2016.
CNN’s Brianna Keilar began hosting "New Day" last year. (CNN screenshot )
Licht and Kadro are working together to come up with a new morning format, but changes aren’t expected to take place until at least October. It’s unclear if the morning show will be branded “New Day,” but it’s highly unlikely that Licht and Kadro keep the name. “New Day” was the brainchild of Zucker, who rose to prominence overseeing NBC’s “Today” during the Matt Lauer era and quickly attempted to replicate the morning success at CNN.
Zucker took over CNN in January 2013 and launched “New Day” that June with hopes it would emerge as a flagship morning program similar to “Today,” but with edginess that could only happen on cable. However, Zucker’s morning show success didn’t repeat itself and “New Day” has never managed to averaged even 700,000 viewers for a year.
Brian Flood is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @briansflood.