CNN‘s network makeover is off to a shaky start.
Jake Tapper, nicknamed “the face of the new CNN,” debuted his show “The Lead” Monday, earning fairly poor ratings throughout its first week on the air. “The Lead” was saddled with huge expectations prior to its Monday debut, with new CNN boss Jeff Zucker pinning much of the network’s host on its new anchor.
“This is the start of an incredible new era,” Zucker said of Tapper, whom he considers key to his reinvention of CNN.
But in the show’s first four days, Tapper struggled to maintain the audience and ratings of his timeslot’s predecessor, “The Situation Room.” Tapper was third from Monday through Thursday with his first show bringing in 400,000 viewers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, that’s a 50 percent drop from “The Situation Room” among the crucial 25-54 demographic, as well as an overall 42 percent drop in viewership.
But don’t pull the curtain on Tapper’s program just yet. It’s obvious that both Zucker and Tapper are committed to a new vision for the network (they’ve both said as much in previous interviews), and such an ambitious makeover is going to take some time to gather an audience.
One thing on Tapper’s side is the critics. His show debuted to strong, positive critical reaction all week. And most new shows fight an uphill battle in ratings their first year.
Thursday was a better day for Fox News and MSNBC, with Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” raking in 1.07 million viewers and Martin Bashir earning 450,000 viewers. Both Fox and MSNBC were closer in key demo viewers (174,000 to 101,000 respectively), but both still lead CNN.
“The Lead” is the first show launch for the re-imagined CNN since Zucker took over this year. Did you watch Jake Tapper’s “The Lead?” What did you think?