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Ricky Gervais fails to lift Piers Morgan ratings

At the end of four nights of premiere week for CNN's Piers Morgan, the story is mostly one of decline. From Monday night's opening interview with Oprah Winfrey to Thursday night's conversation with Ricky Gervais, Morgan lost  51 percent of his overall audience and 46 percent of the key cable news demographic of viewers 25 to 54 years of age.

The Gervais numbers have to be especially worrisome for CNN, since he seemed like someone who would attract a big audience in the wake of his controversial job of serving as host for the Golden Globes telecast Sunday. Gervais actually drew a smaller audience than Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state -- though he did better in the key demographic.

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Morgan's show is expected to be somewhat guest-driven in terms of ratings -- unless viewers decide they really don't like the host. If that happens, CNN is going to be in even more prime-time trouble than it is now -- as hard as that might be to imagine.

Here's a snapshot from Nielsen Media Research of the ratings Monday through Thursday. As you can see, Morgan lost more than a million viewers across the four nights.

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Thursday (Ricky Gervais)
Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity: 2,079,000 overall viewers (557,000 in 25-54 demographic)
CNN's Piers Morgan: 1,025,000 (279,000)
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: 976,000 (264,000)

Wednesday(Condoleezza Rice):
Hannity: 1,974,000 overall (565,000 in 25-54)
Morgan: 1,028,000 (239,000)
Maddow: 1,094,000 (221,000)

Tuesday (Howard Stern):
Hannity: 2,182,900 overall (506,441 in 25-54)
Morgan: 1,273,193 (550,719)
Maddow: 1,125,947 (264,961)

Monday (Oprah Winfrey):
Hannity: 2,365,047 overall (599,800 in 25-54)
Morgan: 2,099,462 (520,519)
Maddow: 1,111,865 (342,013)

I am wondering what readers thought of Larry King's replacement.

Read my review of Morgan's Monday performance with Winfrey here. The short version: I was not impressed.

But, like I said at the time, I will hold off until I see him interviewing live on-the-fly in connection with a breaking news story.

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