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Piers Morgan Taking Over for Larry King, but His Ads Cost the Same

CNN Has High Hopes for Show; Buyers Take Wait-and-See Approach

By Published on . 2

One thing new CNN host Piers Morgan (left) has in common with his predecessor Larry King: ad prices.
One thing new CNN host Piers Morgan (left) has in common with his predecessor Larry King: ad prices. Credit: CNN
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- By taping interviews in advance with luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, George Clooney and Condoleeza Rice, CNN's new host Piers Morgan is hoping to differentiate himself from his predecessor, good old Larry King. But he still has one thing in common with the old man: ad prices.

Mr. Morgan's new show, which debuts Monday on CNN, isn't costing advertisers any more than Mr. King's "Larry King Live" did, according to two media buyers with knowledge of negotiations. One of these executives detected "no discernible difference in rates between Larry King and Piers Morgan."

Such comments usually indicate advertisers are taking a "wait-and-see" approach to a new property; they'll put money down in support of it, but don't see any reason to pay higher prices until the show proves itself. Some new TV shows secure higher-than-usual rates during their premiere weeks, particularly because of the amount of promotion put behind the property by the network.

CNN has high hopes for the program, which is aimed at revitalizing an underperforming prime-time weekday lineup. CNN has seen its position among viewers erode as both News Corp.'s Fox News Channel and NBC Universal's MSNBC have gained ratings by making use of colorful, controversial personalities such as Bill O' Reilly or Keith Olbermann. Mr. Morgan's new program is the last entry in what the Time Warner cable-news outlet expects will be a more promising lineup, though, already, CNN's new 8 p.m. show, "Parker/Spitzer," has turned in disappointing ratings and is rumored to be under scrutiny.

"We have seen consistent advertiser interest in the new 'Piers Morgan Tonight' program since the show was announced last year," said a CNN spokeswoman. Advertisers during the show's first week will include automakers, financial-services companies and insurers, she said.

Even if Mr. Morgan doesn't cost any more than Mr. King once did, CNN might take some solace in the fact that marketers continue to pay the channel's famously high CPM rates. Those rates, a measure of how much an advertiser must pay to reach 1,000 viewers, have traditionally been high at CNN, owing to the channel's longevity and its desirable viewer demographic.

Even so, CNN's premiums have become less notable in recent years as Fox News and MSNBC have gained in stature. Both channels typically trump CNN in weekday prime-time performance -- total viewers and viewers between the ages of 25 to 54.

Mr. Morgan has been helping to stoke interest in his program via Twitter and various pronouncements about his show and the guests he's interviewed.

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