Well, Jeff Zucker did say that CNN was going to more broadly define what news was. It looks like it is going to more broadly define the sort of roles its reporters will play too. With The Lead With Jake Tapper up in the ratings, its host Jake Tapper is going dramatic, with his previously announced role on All My Childrennow set for August 12. The opportunity emerged when Tapper went up to Connecticut to do a piece on the cancelled ABC show’s new online life. Unlike CNN personalities like Wolf Blitzer or Larry King, who often show up on movies and TV shows playing themselves, Tapper will appear on the online soap as Business News Update reporter Spencer Phillips, which sounds almost like a real cable news reporter’s name. His character tries to interview Brooke English (Julia Barr) and Dixie Cooney (Cady McClain). This will be Tapper’s dramatic debut and finale, an insider tells me. After an unsteady start in mid-March, Tapper’s The Lead has seen rises, with the show topping its 4 PM time slot in July in the key adults 25-54 demo.
A week and a half after its debut, the show from the host Jeff Zucker called “the new face of CNN” hit a new low yesterday. Airing at 4 PM ET, The Lead With Jake Tapper pulled in 61,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demo on Wednesday, with 318,000 total viewers. That’s the worst the one-hour CNN show has done since its soft March 18 debut. It was also the worst of the day in the demo for any show on the ratings-challenged CNN. Wednesday’s number marks a demo-low for the show, but it’s not the worst The Lead has done in terms of viewership — it pulled in a mere 258,000 viewers March 22 with a demo of 68,000.
The best the Tapper-fronted show has done came on March 26, when it pulled in 433,000 viewers and 113,000 among 25-54. The show debuted with 400,000 viewers and 87,000 in the demo. But that’s cold comfort when Wednesday’s edition was well behind the 1.222 million viewers who watched Fox New Channel’s Your World With Neil Cavuto in the same time slot; the FNC show pulled in 199,000 in thedemo. The Lead was also behind MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, which drew 383,000 viewers but doubled CNN with 124,000 in the key demo.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wished Jake Tapper “good luck with your show” yesterday while appearing on the debut episode of The Lead With Jake Tapper. The new one-hour CNN show looks like it needs it: The premiere of the first new show under new boss Jeff Zucker drew 400,000 total viewers, finishing in third place among cable news shows in its 4 PM ET time slot. That’s less than half of the 1.102 million who watched Fox News Channel’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, and also down from the 479,000 who watched Martin Bashir’s daily show on MSNBC. In the key adults 25-54 demo, the show starring the former ABC News White House correspondent — who new boss Zucker has called the “face of the new CNN,” — drew 87,000 viewers compared to Cavuto’s 172,000 and Bashir’s 100,000. It also was beaten it in the slot by CNN sister station Headline News, which pulled in 779,000 total viewers and 21,000 in the new demo.