Piers Morgan jokes about CNN’s 20-year ratings lows

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CNN host Piers Morgan may be under renewed criticism for alleged phone hacking, but at least he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. On Wednesday, he cracked wise about his record-low ratings on ‘Piers Morgan Tonight.’

Interviewing Conan O’Brien at a cable TV industry event in Boston, the British-born host surveyed the roughly three-quarters-full convention hall and joked, ‘I haven’t had an audience this big for quite a while.’


Though the crowd may have appreciated the witticism, it must have made Morgan’s bosses wince. New Nielsen figures released Wednesday showed that CNN’s prime-time lineup last week was its least-watched overall in more than 20 years, since at least September 1991.

Last week, ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ averaged 429,000 total viewers. How bad is that? Well, Morgan’s show premiered in January 2011 with 2.1 million. And his predecessor, Larry King, was averaging 657,000 in late 2010 -- a level that was considered unacceptable at the time.

On the other hand, ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ was a star compared with ‘Anderson Cooper 360,’ the 8 p.m. version of which drew just 352,000 viewers. In the adults ages 25 to 54 demographic, Cooper’s performance was catastrophic, with just 95,000 viewers in that category. To an advertiser, such a level means extremely low rates for commercial time; there are big-city newscasts that deliver more viewers in the target audience.

A CNN spokeswoman did not reply to an email and a Morgan rep did not comment.

What do you think of Morgan and CNN these days? What would you do to fix their problems?


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-- Scott Collins (