The BBC One panel show, on which Morgan's archnemesis Ian Hislop appears, pulled in 5.74m (24.5%) from 9pm, while Life Stories with Coronation Street's William Roache had 4.22m (18.1%) and 260k (1.4%) on ITV1 +1.
This comes despite Morgan having a lead-in of over 8m from Corrie, compared to News For You's inheritance of 3.53m (14.8%) from Would I Lie To You?
Morgan had earlier predicted on Twitter that Life Stories would "rip Have I Got News For You's ratings apart".
Lee Mack's sitcom Not Going Out returned with a fairly respectable 4.54m (19.6%), a couple of hundred thousand off last year's opener.
At 10.35pm, a new marathon run of The Graham Norton Show kicked off with 3.83m (25.5%), but BBC One's comedy lineup failed to overtake ITV1 in primetime. Overall, ITV1 clung onto its lead with 21.9% (+1: 0.7%) against BBC One's 21.7%.
BBC Two's latest Twenty Twelve amused 900k (4.5%), prior to which 1.16m (5%) watched Brick by Brick: Rebuilding Our Past. Mastermind (2.19m/9.5%) and Gardeners' World (2.19m/9.2%) logged identical audiences in the 8pm hour.
The Million Pound Drop Live dominated Channel 4's primetime schedule, airing between 9pm and 10.30pm with an audience of 1.69m (7.7%), adding 182k (1.1%) on timeshift. Come Dine with Me served up 1.03m (4.4%) at 8pm (+1: 206k/0.9%).
Eddie Stobart's Trucks and Trailers revved up Channel 5's night with 1.48m (6.3%) at 8pm (+1: 133k/0.6%), then The Mentalist took 1.51m (6.5%) an hour later.
BBC Two finished in third place with 6.5%, ahead of Channel 4's 5.4% (+1: 0.7%), and Channel 5's 5% (+1: 0.3%).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional