The debut episode of “Piers Morgan Tonight” drew 2.099 million total viewers, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen.
That handily beat MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which drew 1.112 million total viewers, but still fell short of Fox news Channel’s “Hannity,” which drew 2.365 million total viewers.
Interestingly, both Hannity and Maddow were up double digits from previous Mondays, which implies that Morgan brought in viewers that don’t typically tune in regularly to TV news.
Morgan hosted Oprah Winfrey as his first guest, while Sean Hannity had an exclusive interview with Sarah Palin, her first since the shootings in Tucson, Arizona.
Of course, viewers should expect the ratings to eventually settle at a lower number, as premiere episodes–bolstered by buzz–typically generate far higher viewership than a program ends up getting.
We will have the full ratings chart available later this afternoon.