Ed Driscoll

This is CNN: 'Boobs! Sex Tapes! No Viewers!'

Earlier this week, Don Surber wrote, “CNN’s attitude continues to be that it is too good for the American people to understand.” If so, much like MSNBC, they certainly have a funny way of demonstrating their hauteur. Or as Glenn Garvin writes at the Miami Herald, complete with photo of a pair of Kardashians in tiny bikinis, “Piers Morgan: Boobs! Sex tapes! No viewers!”

I’ve been fighting off the temptation to mention the nosediving ratings of Piers Morgan’s new show on  CNN. But I surrendered this afternoon when the Nielsen folks revealed that Morgan dropped below half a million viewers Thursday night even with a bunch of crazed half-naked Kardashians sitting at the desk with him. Really. You can’t break the half-million mark with Hollywood’s most beloved trollops bragging about their boobs? (The scoop from Kim: “They’re 100 percent real!” Kourtney, not so much.) And their sex tapes? (Poor Kim says she’s embarrassed by hers, though not embarrassed enough to stop talking about it on national televison, though I guess you could argue that 498,000 viewers qualifies as a “national audience” only in someplace like the Togolese Republic, which may be where Piers Morgan is doing his next show.)

Talking about ratings in the first couple of weeks of a talk show is usually unfair; it takes a new one time to build an audience. But in Morgan’s case, he’s losing an audience. His show debuted on January 17 with 2.1 million viewers tuning in to see him chat up Oprah Winfrey. They were so impressed that almost half of them didn’t return for day two.

Since then, Morgan’s ratings fell every day except for a small upward blip last Tuesday when Rudy Giuliani was the guest. By the time the Kardashians had finished hyperventilating Thursday night, Morgan had lost more than three-quarters of the viewers he started with last week.

As Garvin writes, “Hey, you wanna know who’s really enjoying reading this? Larry King. In its final six months, his show was averaging 613,000 viewers, was low enough to get him kicked off the air after 50 years in broadcasting. But it’s about 20 percent bigger than Morgan’s audience Thursday night.”

Since the rise of cable, satellite TV, the Web, iTunes, Netflix, and the growing choices amongst entertainment consumers, the original big-three networks has been keeping lots of dramatic shows around long past the expiration on their freshness dating, and also  spinning them off so that there’s some sort of brand name for viewers to hang onto. (Hence the endless recombinant Law & Order, CSI and NCIS variations.) The same appears to be true for network anchors as well, much to CNN’s chagrin.