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News UK pulls the plug on linear TalkTV to focus on cross-platform video content

TV channel follows Piers Morgan Uncensored to concentrate efforts in digital.

By Charlotte Tobitt

News UK has decided to close TalkTV as a linear television channel within the next few months.

The decision comes weeks after it announced flagship show Piers Morgan Uncensored would stop making a traditional TV show and produce output only for Youtube.

News UK EVP, president of broadcasting Scott Taunton told staff on Tuesday that TalkTV will come off linear television in the early summer just over two years after it launched on Freeview.

It will continue to have a schedule based on news and opinion but go out via streaming services and on Youtube rather than on traditional TV. It will also continue to air in the Talkradio slot on DAB.

News UK will instead focus investment on a new division, News Studios, which will create video content across The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times, Talksport, Virgin Radio, Piers Morgan Uncensored and Talk to go out via their websites and apps, streaming and social platforms including Youtube and Tiktok.

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‘There is no doubt over Talk’s future’

Taunton said in an all-staff email, seen by Press Gazette, on Tuesday: “A large proportion of our live viewing is already through streaming on televisions and we intend to continue to grow this. Clips will continue to be shared through social media.

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“There is no doubt over Talk’s future as an audio and video channel, it just won’t be distributed on linear.”

The news comes five months after TalkTV shook up its schedule, with Jeremy Kyle and Nicola Thorp taking on the breakfast slot, Julia Hartley-Brewer moving to lunchtimes and Rosanna Lockwood presenting in the 7pm slot.

TalkTV currently has 812,000 subscribers on Youtube while Piers Morgan Uncensored’s own channel is on 2.4 million.

On linear TV, TalkTV reached 2.5 million people in January according to broadcast data body BARB. Rival right-wing news and opinion channel GB News was ahead on 3.2 million.

On radio, via which both channels simulcast, Talkradio was ahead with a weekly reach of 725,000 (up 19% year-on-year) in Q4 of 2023 compared to GB News Radio on 430,000 (up 41%) – although Talkradio is older having been relaunched into something like its current guise in 2016 and GB News Radio did not go live until January 2022.

The news came on the same day GB News accounts showed that TV channel’s operating losses were up 38% in the year to May 2023 meaning it has made total losses of £76m since its 2021 launch.

The latest financial accounts for News UK Broadcasting, published in April last year, showed that TalkTV made a loss of £34m between its launch on 25 April 2022 and the end of that financial year on 3 July 2022. It made £1.1m in revenues from advertising and syndication in that time.

Taunton said on Tuesday: “While linear TV has been a good marketing and awareness window for Talk, we now need to focus our investment on where the eyeballs are and where the revenues are in growth.”

He added: “It makes economic sense too. Linear channel slots cost us millions a year and the advertising revenues are never going to materially exceed the cost of being in these distribution slots, while data-led digital advertising and CTV is in growth.”

News Studios to create digital video for all News UK brands

The new News Studios division will make, Taunton said, “short-form bitesize content for immediate consumption, as well as long-form shows edited for on-demand viewing” and it will “become the home of original programming for all our brands”.

“We have the opportunity to be the best in the industry given our highly professionalised infrastructure and our skilled teams, as well as our funnel of world class journalism and storytelling.”

This content will be produced from News UK’s News Building in London including from recently upgraded and soon-to-be-built new studios.

Taunton’s note said there will be a “restructure so that we can focus our resources and talent on the output we will be creating”. Redundancies could potentially result although the creation of News Studios could help save at-risk roles.

News UK head of TV Richard Wallace will lead News Studios while Dennie Morris, director of audio at News Broadcasting, will lead TalkTV and Piers Morgan Uncensored.

Taunton said: “All of the media industry is adapting and here at News we have a history of prospering because we have not been afraid to innovate and to invest for the long term. News consumption is rapidly changing and we must evolve to keep pace and to be ahead of changing technology and consumer behaviour.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments 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.
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