Last week, CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” averaged about 38,000 viewers a night. In the whole country. That’s it. Just 38,000 people. Which in the scale of a national news network, is pretty much… nobody.
Now, I’m not saying that to be mean to Piers Morgan. He seems like a reasonably decent guy, even if he did take the “crabby English guy” role on the America’s Got Talent judging panel. The reason that I’m mentioning it is that this is a golden opportunity for Piers Morgan, and I wonder if he’s going to take it.
I mean, if you’ve got a show and you’ve got millions of people watching, then you kind of feel obligated to do what’s expected. You’ve got to have the big guests, and you’ve got to do the incisive interviews and all that stuff. But when nobody’s watching, you kind of have the opportunity to do whatever you want.
I mean, if you’re afraid you’re going to get canceled anyway, you might as well just pull out all the stops and do anything you can to enjoy yourself. Because if you’re enjoying yourself, your audience is going to enjoy themselves. Unless you’re really, really freaky.
And actually, even then I suppose you’d find an audience.
But if Piers Morgan can find a way to do things that are interesting and outrageous, some of those 38,000 people are going to start generating some buzz for him, and then other people are going to start checking it out to see what’s going on. I mean, there’s a reason that nobody’s watching. What is he doing that’s different form everybody else? I’m not one of those 38,000 people, so I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that the answer is probably “nothing”.
I mean, look at some of the real innovators. Take Ernie Kovacs. I love Ernie Kovacs as an example because he started out at a time when television was new. Nobody knew what to do with it. It’s kind of where we were with the web 10 or 15 years ago. We’re kind of coming out of that period now when it comes to web TV, but Ernie Kovacs had the first morning wake up show anywhere. It was 1950 in Philadelpha, and to start with at least, nobody was watching. And he did the most outrageous, most wonderful things. If the weatherman said it was raining, Ernie would climb up a ladder and pour water on him. On another of his shows, the guest chef didn’t show up and he shows the audience how to make “Eggs Scavok”. Because there was none of that pressure. And over his career he created some of the funniest, most innovative television ever.
That’s the kind of thing that Piers Morgan needs to be doing. Not that he has to have puppets and crash cars through the studio floor — I mean, he’s supposed to be covering the news. But he needs to do something interesting. Something that he would never do if there were millions of people watching. Look at John Stewart and the Daily Show. They cover the news, but they’re never boring.
Take a risk, Peirs, take a risk! You can afford to do that. Nobody is watching you.
You know that expression “Dance like nobody’s watching?” Piers Morgan needs to create television like nobody’s watching. Because nobody is. But those dances that you do when nobody’s watching? There’s a wonderful authenticity and beauty to them. And it’s interesting.
And look, if he keeps going the way he’s going, he’s going to get cancelled. So he has nothing to lose. And that, that can be a huge blessing. He needs to embrace it.
Piers! Take the risk!
Create television like nobody’s watching.