Piers Morgan’s talkTV show beats rivals with nearly 400,000 tuning in | UK News

Piers Morgan’s talkTV show Uncensored averaged 317,000 viewers during its first episode on Monday, as the television channel, owned by Rupert Murdoch, beat both Sky News and the BBC News channel during the same timeslot.

The presenter’s heavily promoted return to television won a 2% share of all television viewing at 8pm, with the audience peaking at 397,000 as curious viewers checked out the new offering but didn’t stay around for the full hour.

The new station, aided by an enormous advertising budget, was free of most of the technical issues which plagued last year’s launch of the rightwing GB News. Instead, viewers were treated to a heavily trailed interview with the former US president Donald Trump alongside a series of diatribes about “woke” policies, cancel culture and things you can’t say on television these days.

Under the strapline of “straight talking starts here”, talkTV consists of three hours of new programming between 7pm and 10pm: Morgan’s programme, a news and political discussion show hosted by Tom Newton-Dunn, and a panel program presented by Sharon Osborne. The rest of the station’s output consists of programs that use the lineup of the former audio-only talkRadio.

The initial ratings were marginally ahead of GB News’ launch night last year. Although talkTV’s ratings are likely to settle down over the coming weeks as the initial viewer curiosity wears off, the start suggests that there is an audience for a channel built around Morgan’s program – which opened with a graphic of an exploding 3D brain with the words “ woke insanity”, “snowflake society”, “the world’s gone mad” imposed over the top.

Media analysts at Enders Analysis said the finances of the new station were unclear. They said talkTV is “unlikely to achieve the viewing levels required for stand-alone profitability in the midterm” but suggested that its influence on the media could be “disproportionate to its viewing levels”.

The analysts said talkTV’s future will be partly shaped by whether clips go viral on social media: “People like to feel part of a broader conversation, and prefer it when that conversation is widely shared and impactful.”

The launch of talkTV poses a serious threat to GB News, which has gradually rebuilt itself since a catastrophic launch but now faces being swamped by Murdoch’s slicker, more mainstream rival. Its viewing figures remain well below break-even level, while its television ratings are supported by Nigel Farage’s weekday evening show, which does well to hit 100,000 viewers.

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