CNN says the prime-time talk show “Piers Morgan Live” is coming to an end.
Morgan succeeded Larry King in the 9 p.m. EST time slot three years ago, but his show has had lackluster ratings.
CNN said Sunday that the show’s final airdate has yet to be determined.
Morgan is a former British tabloid editor who turned to television, including stints as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker has decided to bring an end to Piers Morgan’s low-rated primetime show, network sources told POLITICO on Sunday. “Piers Morgan Live” could end as early as next month, though Morgan may stay with the network in another role.
Morgan, a former British tabloid editor, replaced Larry King in the 9 p.m. hour three years ago, prior to Zucker’s tenure as president. His show earned consistently low ratings, registering as few as 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 year-old demographic earlier this week.
“CNN confirms that Piers Morgan Live is ending,” Allison Gollust, head of CNN communications, told POLITICO on Sunday after an earlier version of this post was published. “The date of the final program is still to be determined.”
Morgan told The New York Times on Sunday that the show had “run its course” and that he and Zucker “have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.” Sources who spoke to POLITICO said the decision to end the show was Zucker’s.
Zucker took the helm at CNN at the beginning of 2013 and has since brought incremental change to the network, including revitalized news programs and a new emphasis on films and documentary shows. Primetime remains the one area where Zucker has yet to impliment substantive change, a new 10 p.m. roundtable program with Anderson Cooper notwithstanding.
Despite low ratings, Morgan drew national attention for his aggressive gun-control campaign following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Morgan addressed the issue nightly for several weeks in late 2012 and early 2013 and hosted fiery, combative interviews with pro-gun adovcates like Alex Jones, a conservative conspiracy theorist.
While some championed Morgan’s dedication to the gun-control issue, others accused him of generating controversy for the sake of self-promotion. King, his predecessor, said Morgan had made the show as much about himself as about his guests, while Andrew Sullivan, a longtime critic of Morgan’s, accused him of broadcasting “a rolling freak-show designed entirely for ratings.”
In an interview with POLITICO in January 2013, Morgan called his interview with Jones “the smartest booking we’ve ever made. The attention that interview got exploded this issue back onto the agenda.”
Morgan’s ratings, though never strong, hit all-time lows in recent weeks. Tuesday night’s 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 demo were the second-lowest of his entire three-year tenure. On most nights in recent weeks he’s brought in just one-third as many total viewers as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and one-sixth as many as Fox News’s Megyn Kelly.
Speaking with the Times’ David Carr on Sunday, Morgan said, “It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings.”
Morgan also suggested that American audiences were wary of his campaign for gun control.
“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said.