Somewhere, off in the distance, I can hear Piers Morgan crying–scratch that–probably whining, about his meager ratings. CNN has never–in recent memory–been much of a ratings juggernaut. Living in the mammoth shadow on FOX News cannot be easy, but CNN plugs along, claiming proudly to be “The worldwide leader in news.” In the cable news race, CNN is routinely slammed by FOX. At this point, losing must come as no surprise; but when one of your flagship shows loses to LOGOs Ru Paul’s Drag Race–a competition show about drag queens–it’s got to hurt.
According to Matt Drudge, Monday’s episode of Piers Morgan Tonight scored 545,000 viewers, while Ru Paul’s Drag Race was watched by 565,000 viewers. Now, Morgan has never been a rating draw, averaging between 500,000 and 800,000 viewers per show; but this is embarrassing. While shows like FOX News’ O’Reilly and Hannity average over 2 million viewers on a regular basis, Morgan’s ratings have only continued to shrink as time has gone by.
Shows like O’Reilly and Hannity offer an in depth, hotly debated, honest, and generally balanced look at the political world; while Piers Morgan Tonight offers a petulant, British man, proposing staggeringly inane opinions, while bullying his guests. CNN may want to believe that their brand of opinion and analysis would be lapped up by the general public, but the stats tell a different tale. The story of FOX versus CNN is the classic story of quality versus…I’m not sure what.
Despite the abundance of low-information voters, many Americans are hungry for real, thoughtful analysis. American viewers want opinions they can trust, or at least think about. Piers Morgan offers little, beyond Liberal platitudes and indignant retorts. That is why his series is failing.
When more people want to watch a cross-dressing competition reality show on a specialty network than your program on CNN–the worldwide leader in news–your business model may need a bit of tweaking.