CNN Boss Weighs in on Don Lemon-Hosted Morning Show After Rocky Start

CNN CEO Chris Licht is speaking out on CNN This Morning's rocky start. Debuting in November as a replacement to New Day and featuring Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins, the new ensemble morning program has failed to bring in high viewership numbers, something that apparently doesn't concern Licht, who says the program is in its infancy and still getting on its feet.

Licht opened up about the show's struggling start in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. Asked how he assesses the performance of CNN This Morning, Licht told the outlet that the program is in its "early days" and is "just finding its footing." He went on to express confidence in the show, adding, "I think we have all the right raw materials, and now it's just really about coalescing how the show is produced around those three personalities and utilizing the resources of the network as best as it can." He also noted that "Morning Joe took about a year to get its footing."

First launching in November, CNN This Morning has failed to bring in stellar ratings. In fact, the morning show has suffered a steady viewership decline over the course of its first three months on-air. CNN This Morning debuted to just 390,000 viewers despite heavy promotion, with its competitors having far outperformed the show during that same week. Per a previous report from the Daily Mail, Morning Joe on MSNBC brought in 793,000 viewers, and FOX and Friends drew in 1.5 million viewers. Those viewership numbers haven't gotten any better. According to Fox News, in November, the show averaged just 454,000 total viewers, a number that fell even further in December, when CNN This Morning averaged only 389,000 viewers. In January, CNN This Morning's viewership dropped to 373,000 average viewers, marking an 18% decrease over the November numbers. The drop is even more notable when looking at the key demographic of adults age 25-54, which saw viewership plummet 25% from November to January when CNN This Morning averaged just 74,000 viewers in the critical category.

But viewership numbers are just one of the many issues plaguing CNN This Morning. There have been several on-air incidents that have left the host on the receiving end of some intense scrutiny. In December, Lemon was called out for misogyny following a heated debate with Collins and Harlow about the fairness of equal pay between men and women soccer athletes. That same month, Lemon and Collins clashed verbally when Lemon attempted to read through the latest updates on Brittney Griner's return to the U.S. Meanwhile, some sources have claimed that Collins is struggling to adapt to her new position on the show.

Behind the scenes, it was confirmed in January that CNN This Morning executive producer Eric Jall would be leaving the show and moving to the 11 p.m. hour of CNN Tonight. Sources recently told The Hollywood Reporter that Chris Russell is expected to take his place, though "no offer has been made or accepted at this time," a CNN spokesperson confirmed.