TalkTV’s New Era: Leaving Freeview And Freesat Behind

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In a significant shift in its broadcast strategy, Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV channel is set to transition from traditional linear television platforms, including Freeview and Freesat, to an exclusively online streaming model.

This decision, as reported by Sky News, marks a pivotal moment for the channel, just two years after its launch.

The move to online-only broadcasting is scheduled to occur in early summer, following an announcement made to staff by Scott Taunton, president of broadcasting at TalkTV.

This transition comes in the wake of Piers Morgan, one of the channel’s star presenters, announcing his departure to focus on his YouTube channel.

Piers Morgan uncensored on TalkTV

Morgan’s show, Piers Morgan Uncensored, had been a key part of TalkTV‘s lineup but struggled with ratings, leading to his decision to leave the linear TV format, which he described as “an increasingly unnecessary straitjacket.”

The Rise And Pivot Of TalkTV

TalkTV emerged in April 2022 as Rupert Murdoch’s ambitious foray into the UK’s television news landscape, aiming to blend current affairs, entertainment, and sports coverage into a comprehensive package.

Launched with significant fanfare, the channel sought to distinguish itself from traditional news outlets by leveraging the star power of Piers Morgan, among others, and integrating content from News UK’s extensive media portfolio, including talkRADIO, talkSPORT, Virgin Radio, Times Radio, The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times.

Tom Newton Dunn TalkTV
Tom Newton Dunn (Photo: TalkTV)

Similar to GB News, which launched a year earlier, TalkTV was mostly known as a right-leaning channel.

From its inception, TalkTV was designed to be accessible across a broad spectrum of platforms, including Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media, and various streaming devices.

However, despite the initial excitement and the backing of Murdoch’s media empire, TalkTV faced the formidable challenge of carving out a distinct niche in a crowded and rapidly changing media environment.

The channel’s blend of news, entertainment, and sports aimed to offer something for everyone, but with its focus on a specific niche of the audience, it quickly became apparent that the traditional linear TV model was under pressure from the rise of digital media.

TalkTV Shifting To Streaming

The decision to move TalkTV away from linear platforms like Freeview, and focus on streaming platforms, is a reflection of changing news consumption habits.

TalkTV Freeview channel

Scott Taunton’s briefing to staff, as seen by Sky News, highlighted that the majority of people now prefer to consume news online, with smartphones becoming the primary device for news consumption.

“Two years ago, we would not have been brave enough to launch a channel without a linear presence,” Taunton said, acknowledging the rapid shift in audience behaviour towards streaming platforms.

The financial aspect of maintaining linear channel slots, which cost millions annually without a proportional return in advertising revenue, has also been a driving factor behind this strategic pivot.

TalkTV is set to continue its operations as a live-streaming news and opinion channel, distributing content through platforms such as YouTube, Amazon Fire TV, Smart TVs and others.

Man streaming video on a laptop
Moving to streaming

TalkTV’s move to online-only broadcasting occurs amidst a competitive landscape marked by its struggle to match ratings with its main rival, GB News, and the broader dominance of established linear news outlets like Sky News and BBC News.

Both TalkTV and GB News have navigated regulatory scrutiny from Ofcom over complaints related to impartiality breaches by presenters.

GB News logo

This regulatory environment, combined with the financial pressures of operating a linear television channel, has influenced TalkTV’s strategic redirection towards a digital-first approach.

Currently, TalkTV’s YouTube Channel has 813,000 subscribers.

An exact shutoff date for the linear channels has not been announced yet, so for now, the channel continues to operate on Freeview, Freesat and the pay-TV platforms – until sometime this summer.

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