Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV
5 May 2022

Why are Piers Morgan’s TalkTV ratings so low?

Plummeting ratings suggests there is less of an appetite for his brand of outrage than News UK bosses hoped.

TalkTV was the “hokey-cokey” of TV channel launches. It was going to launch, then it wasn’t. Then it was going to be digital-only, then the senior executive hired to oversee it departed.

When News UK decided that it was going to be a channel after all, executives hired Piers Morgan for a rumoured eight-figure deal (yes, tens of millions). TalkTV was finally launched with a blaze of expensive publicity and advertising that largely centred around Morgan’s face. Love him or hate him, the adverts promised, you won’t be able to ignore him.

But less than a fortnight after his show debuted, it looks like we really, really can. Despite a dramatic edit that appeared to show Donald Trump storming off the set of his launch-day interview, and a string of controversy-baiting guests, Morgan is neither bringing in ratings nor going viral online.

As the biggest draw for the fledgling channel – whose line-up is otherwise filled by cannibalising the previously smooth-running TalkRadio set-up – Morgan’s low viewership bodes ill for the launch. The UK cable TV news market is hardly a saturated one, and this is the second right-leaning anti-woke launch in a year.

TalkTV launched after its relatively niche target audience had already been offered GB News. TalkTV boasts a much higher budget, but that is a double-edged sword: it is spending even faster than its rival, which means it needs a much larger audience to break through.

Averaging just 62,000 viewers a night for its peak-time big-budget show, and attracting a total of zero viewers at quieter times, it is nowhere near where it needs to be to justify its own existence.

These might just be teething troubles, and Morgan himself is trying to act like he doesn’t care about viewing figures (despite previously bragging about his Good Morning Britain breakfast show ratings and the relatively high viewership of his opening-night TalkTV show). If the channel was constantly going viral and making headlines, there might be reason to believe better ratings would eventually follow.

Content from our partners
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government

But perhaps Morgan wasn’t as safe a bet as an attention grabber – though he’s certainly an attention seeker – as TalkTV imagined. He has had his headline-generating moments, but he’s had his failures too, such as struggling to prop up ratings at CNN. And while Morgan frequently helped GMB trend on Twitter, its ratings were on average much lower than the staid BBC breakfast show, and the programme has not notably suffered in his absence.

The world is busy enough, hectic enough and outraged enough already. Anyone in search of a new front in the culture war need look no further than whatever the Culture Secretary’s latest announcement is, while the government can just as easily prompt the outrage of the day.

Public life has, effectively, been rebuilt in Morgan’s image – a stream of loud, brash, controversial takes designed to steal our attention rather than achieving any particular result. Privatise Channel 4! Send refugees to Rwanda! Let them eat Tesco value cake!

It might be Piers Morgan’s world now, with the rest of us left to endure it, but has the sound and fury crowded out the man himself?

[See also: “We’re going to disrupt”: A year inside GB News]

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Topics in this article : ,