Howard Stern said something very intelligent and telling during his interview with Piers Morgan last night. To paraphrase, he said he was worried for the affable Brit because everyone tunes in during the first week when the guests are A-list but the real test would be three months down the road when Morgan was forced to interview the likes of Scott Baio. Potshots at the Happy Days star aside, that’s what propelled Larry King for decades. Whether he was interviewing a former President or Dog The Bounty Hunter, the suspendered king of the interview found ways to make it watchable. Only time will tell whether Piers Morgan is able to tap into that brilliance. He’s going to need to because if the ratings are any indication, he might be in trouble.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ratings for Piers Morgan Tonight fell by almost a million people last night. The premiere, buoyed by an interview with Oprah, attracted over two million viewers. Howard Stern brought in 1.2 million, though it should be noted more than 500,000 of those tuning in fell within the coveted 25 to 54 demographic. That’s a slight bump from the Oprah interview, and if they somehow held over the long haul, they would put him in a great position. On the other hand, if the downward spiral is a trend, Morgan might have trouble even making it to that three month Scott Baio interview.

Ordinarily, I’m a big first impressions guy, but for the moment, I’ve held off on formulating an opinion because how someone interviews the likes of Oprah and Howard Stern doesn’t have a solid bearing on how they’ll normally operate. For example: last night Stern asked Morgan numerous questions about the show itself. He did this, not only because the show is new, but because he’s an interviewer and that’s how he normally relates. That won’t happen when the America’s Got Talent judge sits across from non-members of the media.

For comparison, Larry King Live averaged about 650,000 viewers, though doing that over decades is more impressive than the numbers indicate. Piers Morgan Tonight airs on CNN at 9PM.

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