HOW LONG BEFORE PIERS MORGAN GOES LIVE, ADDS MULTIPLE GUESTS? START THE OFFICE POOL NOW

KING REPLACEMENT STILL LIKES HIS INTERVIEWS PRE-TAPED — NOT SHAKEN OR STIRRED


Whew, what a relief that Piers Morgan’s first week is over.  We can both relax now.  I don’t really know how he felt, but I certainly was  full of anxiety watching.  Imagine getting hired to replace an icon like Larry King.  The set, the suspenders, open heart surgery (or as he awkwardly called it with Bill Clinton: the “zipper club.”) And all the wives we loved and lost.

Replacing a broadcast original, even if he’d acted like your embarrassing uncle some nights, is a daunting challenge.  I just couldn’t wait for those  first interviews to be over so we can all dig into reality.

YOU MIGHT AS WELL BURN THE FIRST WEEK…

No matter how strategic one tries to be, you might as well burn the first week anytime you’re stepping into big shoes, especially comfortable old ones.   And you’ve got to know the size of the shoes into which you step —  the American size, not the English size, which is smaller. (A man’s size 12 in the US is an 11 in the UK.)

Speaking of smaller, the total audience for Morgan’s show began to shrink throughout the first week, losing nearly a million viewers across all ages.

Among adults 25-54, the audience  was nearly halved by Wednesday.  But then again, anyone here could have warned in advance that Condoleeza Rice, while one of the most interesting women in the world, is not fascinating as an interviewee. Ricky Gervais, on the other hand, is — especially right after his Golden Globe controversy.  But “right after,” in our world of 24/7 news, would have been Monday, not Thursday.

Here’s a look at the adult 25-54 audience through Piers Morgan’s inaugural week:

Mon: Oprah (521,000)
Tues: Stern (551,000)
Wed: Rice (239,000)
Thurs: Gervais (279,000)
Fri: Clooney (121,000)

Between Monday and Friday night, Piers Morgan’s demo fell by 77%.  Here’s how the Clooney show fared against its cable competition.

Net 9PM P2+ (000s) 25-54 (000s)
FNC HANNITY 1,757 333
CNN Piers Morgan Tonight 718 121
MSNBC RACHEL MADDOW SHOW 1,075 355
CNBC MARIJUANA USA 276 121
HLN NANCY GRACE-MISSING 354 118

BY THE NEXT MORNING, THEY SAY, NEWS IS FISH AND CHIPS WRAP

Today’s audience has the attention span of an Apple app download.  As soon as you’ve seen it on your iPad, you want the next one.

It’s no different from the time when Piers Morgan ran a couple of the British tabloids.  By the next morning, they used to say, the news is fish and chips wrap.

CNN is the same, except sometimes its fish and chips wrap in two or three hours.  You see,  CNN was the first news organization in America to move it forward faster, 24/7 faster.  Weekly publications, and some network news magazines (like ABC’s Prime Time Live  where I spent ten years of my career) have gone out of business, others are teetering on the brink.  Nothing holds until “next Thursday.” Not even Ricky Gervais.

So I have to ask: if you’re lucky enough to have your own daily show, why would you want to hold anything?

Well, as I said, I’m happy week one is over and we can all settle in.  I’m sure, even for the most over-confident, arrogant, self-satisfied on-air talent, it had to be simply terrifying.  (I’m not saying he is, just if he was, it would still be terrifying.)

Presuming the strategy was to first kiss the ring for Oprah’s blessing and gain the acceptance of all her loyalists, then have some fun with Howard Stern and at least get sampled by all his peeps, then show he can manage both hard news and soft (Condi and Ricky) and wrap up with a box office hunk, he’s done.

FIRST WEEK ALWAYS THE HARDEST

I can’t say Piers selected the easiest path. Howard Stern and Ricky Gervais are certainly talk show guests where you can just “add water and mix.”  But the others? Yikes.  Oprah needs to be in control at all times.  (Answering “That’s a good question,” by the way,  was just Oprah, as they say in the old country, “takin’ the piss.”   It’s not a lot different from  the week before when she answered a TV critic who asked “As a kid, what were your dreams?” “What a good question,” she began.  “I’ve never been asked that before”  … before launching, that is,  into an answer that was clocked at 18 minutes and 15 seconds.)

Can Piers Morgan ever lift his ratings with a lead in like Parker-Spitzer?

Condi?  As Secretary of State she made an art form out of thwarting all attempts to find a sound bite.

Still, even after a frustrating week with shrinking ratings,  I, for one, am sticking with Piers for a while.  Everyone has a learning curve and he seems like  might actually  be both probing and fun in the future.  He’s added at least one uber-booker to his team.

I’m still starting a pool to see when CNN brass will convince him to be live (or at least live on tape the day of to start) and have multiple guests, which, as Larry King learned, will at least help broaden out audience appeal.  And finally, I can’t wait until he breaks some real news on the show, so we feel we shouldn’t miss it, just in case something big happens.

PARKER-SPITZER: HOWS’ THAT WORKIN’ FOR YOU?

By adding some feeling of  urgency, he just might give Sean Hannity a run for the money.  But then again, he’s lumbered with that Parker-Spitzer lead-in, a good reason to  might drop in a on the new bosses and ask, “So how’s that workin’ for you?”


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