A comprehensive history of Piers Morgan's ratings woes

Watch the author's full analysis of Piers Morgan's ratings on The Wonderful World of Stu

By Dan Andros

CNN officially announced Piers Morgan as the replacement for the legendary Larry King on September 8th, 2010. The next few months on CNN saw a steady barrage of promotion to hype the shakeup, hoping to end what was dubbed a ‘ratings depression’ in the 9pm time slot.

Piers himself said before his program debuted that the ‘only benchmark’ of his success would be whether or not he could lift CNN’s ratings from ‘cellar-dwelling’ status. Well, he’s had 664 shows to get the job done – has he?

Nope, not even close.

A closer look at his entire ratings history leaves no doubt: Piers Morgan has failed and he’s failed spectacularly. You might be saying CNN has been in the ratings gutter for quite some time now and it’s a little unfair to unleash an entire ratings expose on a single host. That’s a completely legitimate argument – but Piers Morgan’s massive ego and unwarranted arrogance nullifies it.

From day one, Piers has made it clear that this is about him and only him. Instead of humbly entering the cable arena, Piers entered guns blazing:

After the months of promotion, Piers did come out of the gate sprinting. He placed 2nd in the demo on his opening night with 521,000 viewers, thanks to debut guest Oprah Winfrey. But Hannity still managed to score 600,000 and win the night with an interview of Sarah Palin. Piers' assessment of the situation was strange, to say the least:

“Without that (Palin interview) we would’ve beaten Fox.”

Ah yes, the old ‘if the other team didn’t score all those touchdowns we totally would have won!’ excuse. Works every time.

On show number two, Stern did indeed score a first place finish for Piers with 551,000 in demo, beating Hannity (506,000) for the night. A good start, but the next few weeks would be a harbinger of things to come. Over the next 27 shows, Piers averaged just 228,000 in demo and that number was inflated by CNN’s breaking news coverage of the Arab Spring during the month of February.

Amazingly, Piers’ ego remained completely intact. On his satellite radio program, Howard Stern recalled running into Piers a few weeks after their interview. Piers asked Howard how ‘my’ interview was and actually made Stern an offer: “you can come on my show once a month” he said. Ironically, the stated purpose was to help boost Stern’s career – not the other way around. Imagine telling the guy responsible for your only number one finish that he needed career help and that you were the one who could provide it. Imagine having a show that loses badly to Hannity and Rachel Maddow night after night - and telling a man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars off of his broadcasting talent that you are going to save his career. It’s madness.

During those first 27 shows, Piers came in 3rd or 4th place (out of 4) 20 times, or 74% of the time. A terrible start by any measure, but unfortunately for Piers and CNN, this would be as good as it gets. Over the next few years, Piers Morgan Tonight would be a consistent 3rd place finisher and whenever a decent made-for-TV trial landed on CNN Headline News, Piers was a guaranteed last place finish.

Earlier this year, during the Jody Arias trial, Piers finished in last place an amazing 24 straight times, covering a period of 5 straight weeks. The only thing that stopped the streak was a miserable 85,000 put up by Headline News on March 29th – but Piers picked up the streak again the following Monday and came in last another 10 straight times. Piers finished last 34 out of 35 nights – and it wasn’t just because he was getting decent numbers and others went through the roof.

He was awful.

He averaged a measly 119,000 viewers in the demo during the stretch, which included some insanely low scores:

93,000

87,000

89,000 (3 times)

78,000

97,000

98,000

The low point was on April 8th with a 68,000 in demo.

To give you an idea of how miserable these numbers are – during that same month of April, Fox News' Red Eye averaged 155,000 in demo. Red Eye airs at 3am ET, when almost the entire country is asleep.

The losing streak finally came to a halt on April 15th, 2013 when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. Piers scored a rare first place finish, squeaking past Hannity on that tragic Monday as CNN covered the bombings with all of its breaking news team. Later in the week, Piers would be the benefactor of the manhunt for the bombers, scoring two more first place finishes in demo on Thursday and Friday.

This is a trend that seems repeat itself with Piers – so much so that science is considering calling it ‘Piers Law’ – and that is: when Americans suffer, Piers Morgan is having a pretty decent day. When Americans are having a pretty decent day, Piers Morgan ratings suffer.

In late 2012, Piers had placed third (out of four) in 13 of 14 straight shows before tragedy struck – the Sandy Hook massacre. CNN’s breaking news coverage helped lead Piers to another rare first place finish.

Between September 10th, 2012 and November 6th 2012 he placed third or last an astonishing 40 out of 45 times. His only first place finishes came the day Hurricane Sandy hit shore and on election night, which wasn’t even him hosting the program, it was CNN’s election coverage.

In 2011, another abysmal streak of distant 3rd and last place finishes (18 out of 20 shows) was stopped by the Tsunami in Japan, where CNN’s breaking news coverage lifted Piers to a 1st place on Friday March 11th.

When a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma and devastated an entire town – it lifted Piers Morgan ratings up to #1 on May 20th.

The pattern is clear: very few Americans intentionally watch Piers Morgan.

Sean Hannity averages more than double Piers per night in demo – 476,000 for Hannity and 235,000 for Piers. Maddow also beats Piers with a nightly average of 312,000 in demo.

In his first 664 shows, Piers Morgan has placed 3rd or 4th (out of 4) an astonishing 85% of the time. He most commonly comes in a distant third place (60% of the time) behind Hannity and Maddow and is dead last with 25% of his shows. He occasionally places 2nd (11%) and he only lands in first place a mere 4% of the time.

But even the 4% is misleading. Let’s take a closer look: that 4% is a total of 28 shows out of the 664 he’s aired to date. Of those 28 first place finishes, very few of them are legitimate wins.

To score a ‘legitimate’ win, Piers has to be on the air and so does Hannity. Vacations and guest-hosts don’t count. So here’s the breakdown of his 28 first place finishes:

  • 7 were due to breaking news coverage of natural disasters and tragedies (Tsunami, hurricane Sandy, Tornado in Moore OK, Sandy hook shooting, etc)
  • 3 were not against Hannity (he had fill in hosts those nights)
  • 13 were due to alternate programming (debates, SOTU, inauguration, holiday schedule, etc)

That leaves five legitimate first place finishes.

FIVE out of six hundred and sixty four programs – or 0.8% of the time – Piers Morgan Tonight has been successful.

By his own measure, Piers Morgan has been a ratings failure during his tenure at CNN. There is no refuting the numbers – the only question that remains – is his ego still intact?

If only his ratings were as big as his inflated ego…

On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.