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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 01/18/2011

About 2.1 million watch Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey go mano a mano on CNN

By Lisa de Moraes

[This blog post has been updated with ratings]

About 2.1 million people watched Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey's death match on the unveiling of Morgan's new CNN show "Piers Morgan Tonight" in Larry King's old timeslot.

About a quarter of them -- 521,000 -- fell into the 25-54 year old age bracket. Those viewers are the bread and butter of news programming.

Piers and Oprah were no match for Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin, who did their own tango on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" and copped a crowd of 2.4 million viewers.

But Oprah and Piers did outstrip Rachel Maddow on MSNBC; she averaged 1.1 million viewers.

In the Plus column, Piers's opening audience represents a 219% increase compared to CNN's 4th quarter average in the timeslot.

But Larry King's last hurrah, on December 16, had attracted a larger average audience than did Piers in his first at-bat as a TV news talk show host. Larry's last stand had averaged 2.25 million viewers. To be fair, while Piers had Oprah, Larry had Ryan Seacrest (Larry also had, briefly, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama).

Piers and Oprah pretended they really liked each other while grappling to seize control of the first "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Monday.

Meanwhile, if you missed it, here's a taste of Oprah on "Piers Morgan Tonight"

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 18, 2011; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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Small-fry such as Oprah & Piers can't swim with Sarah Barracuda. She rules the waves. Top ratings went to FOX/Hannity.

Posted by: bubbasouth | January 18, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It should be noted that "Hannity" drew more viewers with guest Sarah Palin than Piers Morgan was able to with guest Oprah Winfrey.

Additionally, CNN's Piers Morgan show (with Oprah Winfrey) LOST the time slot to FOX's Hannity (with Sarah Palin).

Got it?


Oprah Winfrey drew LESS VIEWERS.
Sarah Palin drew MORE VIEWERS.

Posted by: QuineGeology | January 18, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Piers Morgan has a repugnant history as first a reporter for and then the editor of three notorious British tabloids. I don't think he'll EVER be able to wash the stink off himself--nor should he--from being mentored by Rupert Murdoch and Kelvin Mackenzie, both repulsive yellow journalists. Morgan calls himself a serious journalist, yet he spent over a decade lying, exaggerating and printing salacious rumors about the rich and famous at The Sun (1989–94); News of the World (1994–95); and the Daily Mirror (1995–04). Now he's trotting himself out as a quality but "dangerous" mainstream interviewer when nothing could be farther from the truth. Buh-bye, Morgan. I'll watch anything but your hideous mug.

Posted by: SoCalGal2 | January 18, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

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