CNN’s ‘New Day’: A Morning Show Where News Is Not Too Soft and Not Too Hard

CNN has three sponsors for launch of ayem program that won't be "Today" and not "Morning Joe," either


If you believe CNN President Jeff Zucker, the cabler’s efforts to launch “New Day” June 17 is akin to dawn breaking at the Time Warner outlet.

“New Day,” as the new morning-news program will be called, takes CNN to new areas: The show is three hours long – not the norm for CNN in the ayem – and will start at 6 a.m., not at 7 a.m., as has been the tradition at the net. Its hosts – Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and news reader Michaela Pereira – hail from New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles respectively. And the new anchors are trying to get their chemistry aligned before they get in front of the camera, rather than force it once the show has started.

“New Day” will be slightly different from the rest of the morning crop. “No cooking and no concerts,” says Zucker, whose tenure as top producer at NBC’s “Today” gives him a familiarity with the genre that is hard to top. Executives at the network bill “New Day” as a newsier program than CNN has featured in the past, but one that is meant to appeal to a bigger audience.

“I want the day to start with a strong offering that sets the tone and agenda for the day for the entire network,”said Zucker Friday at a press event meant to introduce the program.

Behind the scenes, CNN is touting “New Day” to advertisers as a sort of “Good Morning America” without the soft stuff, said Jay Baum, executive veep and director of national video at Deutsch, an ad agency owned by Interpublic Group. The network isn’t trying to get higher prices for the show and is telling advertisers it doesn’t expect huge ratings increases right out of the gate, Baum said. But CNN does think the program will have a broader appeal than such previous CNN ayem fare such as “American Morning” or the current “Starting Point.” Already, said Zucker, three advertisers that he declined to specify have signed up to support the program’s launch.

CNN sees “what’s going on in the early-morning daypart and see a little bit of an opportunity to try and capture some viewers,”Baum said.

Indeed, “New Day” launches as the morning-news world is experiencing something of a sea change. NBC’s “Today,” the one-time leader of the pack, has falled to ABC’s “Good Morning America. Meantime, the time period is being splintered by CBS’s harder-news take, Fox News Channel’s popular “Fox & Friends,” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

While emphasizing he did not want “New Day” to aim as wide as the genre’s two leaders, but also didn’t want to be a narrowly focused as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. The MSNBC program’s “success has been with an elite audience, but not with a broad audience,” said Zucker. He also applauded CBS’s “This Morning”which has increased its ratings by sticking to a harder-news bent, even if it is ranked last among the broadcast networks.

“New Day” will have some room for levity and interacation among the on-air crew, said Jim Murphy, the TV-news veteran who is now senior executive producer of CNN’s morning programs. “You will find we are looser, a bit more fun, and hopefully more interesting.” He and anchor Chris Cuomo said the morning staff has gotten more aggressive about booking guests, and it pays off.”

Zucker spent a lot of time considering the on-air team for the new program. He said he talked twice with CNN evening anchor Erin Burnett about the post, but found it wasn’t right for her for for the network. He also said he had no conversations with Ann Curry, the NBC News veteran who was pushed out of her perch at “Today”when ratings began to fall.

Launch of the program also comes as Zucker is attempting to refashion the CNN brand as a sort of place for serious non-fiction programming that one might see on Discovery or History. The network recently launched a weekend program with Anthony Bourdain, has a new show coming from documentary provocateur Morgan Spurlock and has acquired several documentary films in recent weeks to show on air.