Will GB News survive the launch of TalkTV?

Rupert Murdoch’s new television channel, TalkTV, launches tonight with Piers Morgan interviewing Donald Trump.

Media mogul Murdoch is trying to “upset the British Broadcasting Institute at a time when questions are hanging over his global media empire,” the newspaper reported financial times. Success for the channel would help News Corp recover from its phone-hacking scars.

After “months of preparation,” the newspaper said insiders are “confident the fledgling channel will avoid the kind of production hiccups that marred the launch of its right-wing rival GB news last summer”.

In fact, comparisons to GB News are “widespread,” noted press gazette, but it seems TalkTV is “confident of getting off to a better start than its rival.” GB News is run by Angelos Frangopoulos, who was chief of Murdoch’s Sky News Australia until 2018.

Despite the comment suggesting TalkTV may end the fight against GB News, The Telegraph said that “questions remain” about the new channel’s ability to “disrupt the broadcaster”.

Where GB News has been marred by an exodus of advertisers unhappy with its political positioning, TalkTV will “give brands that have been hesitant to direct ad spend to GB News a safer home for their ads,” according to the marketing agency’s Rob Keery AIP said Press Gazette.

GB News is also struggling with viewership. The channel’s monthly reach was 2.65 million viewers in March, compared to 16.6 million on BBC News and 11.9 million on Sky News, according to BARB. The broadcaster’s numbers are said to have declined because its relatively small budget meant it couldn’t compete with live coverage of the Ukraine conflict.

Its “modest ratings” may be “eroded further” by the launch of TalkTV, Stephen Arnell wrote in The Media Guide. He noted the new channel has money for “big money signings Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne” that would top anyone on the GB News books and attract even more viewers to boot.

GB News has “struggled to establish an audience that consistently beats BBC News and Sky” after its “stormy start”, The Telegraph said, although the newspaper noted that GB News’ 7pm show, led by Nigel Farage, “Has delivered robust ratings and generally beats Sky News”.

GB News’ average daily viewership is less than a quarter of what it was targeting before launch, says Tom Standen-Jewell of Enders Analysis. But he adds that this suggests there is no “untapped partisan TV audience” in the UK, which is also bad news for TalkTV.

The I reported that analysts believe TalkTV could fall into the same trap as GB News by over-relying on a star presenter. “Nigel Farage’s weekday show gets three times the viewership of any other show on the channel,” noted Enders Analysis.

Meanwhile, for TalkTV, Morgan is “guaranteed to draw audiences and make headlines, but he’s the tent pole that supports the whole company. He’s the brand,” added Standen-Jewell.

However, the channel’s other two big names might feel like they have something to add to the party, too. Former Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn and US TV personality Sharon Osbourne will both present regular shows.

And Morgan is keen to distance the new channel from its rival. “GB News reports mainly from a right-wing conservative direction,” he told the BBC The media show. “We certainly won’t be in prime time. I’m definitely not right. We have a different perspective. We have no partisan bias about what I do.” Will GB News survive the launch of TalkTV?

Fry Electronics Team

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