Don Lemon’s ‘CNN This Morning’ Debuts to Dismal Ratings, Trails Long-Struggling ‘New Day’

CNN replaced its long-struggling morning show “New Day” with a heavily promoted program centered around left-wing host Don Lemon, but viewership issues remained the same.

The launch of “CNN This Morning” attracted only 387,000 total viewers on Tuesday, when the ensemble morning program featuring Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins officially replaced “New Day.” By comparison, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” managed 793,000 viewers and “FOX & Friends” averaged 1.5 million on the same morning.

“New Day,” infamous in media circles for its inability to attract large audiences, averaged 413,000 daily viewers in 2022 before it was canceled — a larger audience than “CNN This Morning” was able to muster in its debut.

Repeats of “Young Sheldon” and “The Big Bang Theory” on TBS, ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” decades-old reruns of “Gunsmoke” on INSP and “The Andy Griffith Show” on TV Land and TLC’s “Little People, Big World” were among the basic cable offerings on Monday that had larger audiences than the debut of “CNN This Morning.”

“CNN This Morning” didn’t perform particularly well in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults age 25-54, either. The Lemon-centered show drew only 71,000 viewers among the critical category, compared to 114,000 for “Morning Joe” and 236,000 for “FOX & Friends.”

The inaugural “CNN This Morning” struggled despite Lemon conducting a pre-recorded interview with Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, who has attracted extra attention to his campaign due to his ongoing recovery from a stroke.

“New Day” even managed to draw more demo viewers in 2022 than the premiere of “CNN This Morning,” averaging 86,000 each morning before the plug was pulled.

Lemon was moved from CNN’s primetime lineup to the “reimagined” morning program, but insisted it wasn’t a demotion.

CNN CEO Chris Licht has a reputation as a morning show authority after his work with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “CBS This Morning,” but CNN’s last boss Jeff Zucker came in with similar credentials.

Zucker was considered a morning show wunderkind after overseeing NBC’s “Today” for much of its Matt Lauer-era success, but was never able to replicate the achievement when he came to CNN and created “New Day” in 2013. Its first iteration included Chris Cuomo as a co-host, who would later shift to primetime before his firing last year.

Zucker was forced out earlier this year ahead of a long-planned merger that put CNN under the control of Warner Bros. Discovery, and Licht was tabbed as his replacement. It remains to be seen if Licht’s attempt to fix CNN’s morning programming will be more successful than the one created by his predecessor, but it didn’t get off to a great start.

CNN also announced Wednesday that Jake Tapper will return to his late-afternoon program after poor viewership during a monthlong stint in primetime.

CNN sent a statement to Fox News Digital.

“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. 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,” a CNN spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

All data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research.

Reporting from Fox News.