Piers Morgan leaves TalkTV, calling his low-rating daily show a ‘straitjacket’

Piers Morgan on the set of Piers Morgan Uncensored
Piers Morgan on the set of Piers Morgan Uncensored - David Rose
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Piers Morgan is leaving television and heading to YouTube, saying that his nightly TalkTV show has been a “straitjacket” with lacklustre ratings.

Piers Morgan Uncensored has attracted some of the biggest names in politics and entertainment, beginning with a Donald Trump interview for the launch programme.

This week he interviewed Rishi Sunak, and made headlines by persuading the Prime Minister to make a bet on Rwanda flights leaving before the next election.

However, ratings for the daily 8pm slot are small; the Sunak interview was watched by barely 50,000 viewers on television, but has been viewed 335,000 times on YouTube.

Morgan announced that he would make the show YouTube-only, in a move that will raise questions about the future of Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV. He is the station’s star name.

He said that the decision was his own, although Murdoch is said to have been equally displeased with Morgan’s ratings. The presenter was reportedly being paid £50 million over three years for work across various News UK outlets.

Morgan joined TalkTV after quitting ITV’s Good Morning Britain in a row over the Duchess of Sussex, and before that left CNN after audiences were turned off by his championing of gun control.

‘I just want to go full digital’

“I’ve just decided that I no longer want to create my show for linear television. I just want to go full digital globally,” Morgan told the Semafor website.

“There’s something quite anachronistic about ... still trying to create old-fashioned TV for a pre-scheduled time slot each night for a relatively small audience, when we’re getting such gigantic audiences digitally.

“The frustration for me has been continuing to create a TV-format show when that’s not how 95 per cent of my audience is watching it.”

Speaking to The Times, Morgan added: “It’s clear there’s a huge global demand for the content we’re making, but the commitment to a daily show at a fixed schedule, with all the editing and time sensitivities that involves, has been an unnecessary straitjacket.

“People are watching the content on YouTube rather than conventional television and I have no problem with that.”

The Piers Morgan Uncensored channel on YouTube has 2.35 million subscribers. His recent interview with Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, has had 22 million views after going viral on social media, while other popular interviews include Andrew Tate (14 million), Kanye West (8.7 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo (5.7 million).

The YouTube move would allow Morgan to do more expansive interviews and not be constrained by an hour-long running time, he said. “I could happily interview Elon Musk for three or four hours tomorrow and the audience would lap it up.

“But the nightly restriction of having to go into a studio at 8pm when sometimes there is nothing happening and literally fill time? Nobody wants that.”

TalkTV deal ‘worth $50 million over three years’

TalkTV launched in April 2022 but has struggled to get a foothold in the market, despite its expensive production values. A revamp last year which put Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mike Graham and Jeremy Kyle into prime slots has failed to revive interest.

Viewing figures have lagged well behind rivals including GB News and there has been speculation that Murdoch could pull the plug.

Figures from ratings body Barb show that the audience averaged just 11,100 for a Monday in January, compared to 58,000 for GB News, 62,500 for Sky News and 76,000 for BBC News.

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