A premiere’s ratings may say as much about the lead-in PR job than the future of the show, but regardless Piers Morgan should be feeling pretty pleased with his opening numbers.Preliminary estimates from Nielsen indicate that CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” premiered last night to 2.1 million viewers on Monday.
Want to know how big that is?
Morgan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey drew an audience that CNN said was 219% bigger than Larry King’s average audience during his last quarter at CNN. (King averaged 657,000 viewers during the fourth quarter of last year).
Those numbers bumped CNN up to second place in the 9pm cable slot and left MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the dust (Maddow’s interview with Michael Moore pulled 1.11 million viewers total and 342,000 in the demo).
Oprah and Piers couldn’t quite top Sean Hannity’s interview of Sarah Palin (her first since the shootings in Arizona) however, which drew 2.36 million viewers and 600,000 in the demo.
It’s worth noting that neither Maddow or Hannity’s average ratings suffered from Piers’ debut (actually 1.1 million is on the stronger side for Maddow) so perhaps Piers was pulling in curious viewers who don’t normally turn to cable news at 9pm.
Whether this means that Piers Morgan can save CNN is too early to tell. Morgan and CNN pulled out all the stops in promoting the first show, so it’s hard to say whether they will retain their audience after a few months. But ratings like this right off the block suggest that CNN’s big British gamble is paying off and FOX News may no longer have to look quite so far over its shoulder for the nearest 9pm competition.
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