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Piers Morgan to move TalkTV show Uncensored to YouTube

Piers Morgan is taking his daily Uncensored show off TalkTV to focus on its YouTube channel.

The broadcaster said television schedules had become an “unnecessary straitjacket” and that moving online would allow him to conduct longer, more in-depth interviews.

He also said it would enable him to attract a more global audience.

The show’s YouTube channel currently has 2.35 million subscribers, many times its estimated daily TV audience.

Piers Morgan

The announcement comes less than two years after Morgan was recruited to be the star presenter for the launch of TalkTV by News UK, a subsidiary of the Murdoch family’s News Corp.

The channel was one of a number set up to offer alternatives to the news coverage of the more established broadcasters.

But Morgan’s move will raise questions about its future, and the role of traditional TV in general.

‘Can’t defy audiences’

Morgan’s interviews regularly attract hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, sometimes reaching the millions. In contrast, ratings for his TalkTV show, which airs at 20:00, are in the tens of thousands per episode.

Speaking to the Times, the presenter said “you can’t defy audiences or tell them how they should be consuming”.

“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 increasingly unnecessary straitjacket,” he said.

He gave the example of an interview published on YouTube on Monday afternoon with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which made headlines after Mr Sunak agreed to a £1,000 bet over his Rwanda policy.

“Had we waited until 8pm to air it first on TalkTV, it would have been overtaken by the huge breaking news of King Charles’s cancer diagnosis,” he said.

In the end, most of Morgan’s show on Monday was taken up by the breaking news of the King’s health. The full interview with Mr Sunak did not go out on TV until 23:00, when it registered an audience figure of 2,000. Meanwhile, the interview has now registered 350,000 views on YouTube.

YouTube and TV audiences are calculated differently. UK TV ratings body Barb calculates an average of how many people watch a whole show, while YouTube reportedly registers a view for a video if someone watches 30 seconds.

Piers Morgan and Rupert Murdoch
Morgan will continue to work with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp on his YouTube show

Morgan also told US outlet Semafor that he often wished he could let an interview run for hours because “that’s what the YouTube crowd love”.

Thursday’s TalkTV show was his last, and Piers Morgan Uncensored will resume on YouTube on 19 February.

He said he co-owns Uncensored with News Corp and that “I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t expand the Uncensored brand globally.”

Scott Taunton, executive vice-president of broadcasting for News UK, told the Times that transforming Morgan into a “digital-first” broadcaster would help to lift his global audience.

“More and more, audiences are consuming video news and opinion online,” he said. “This evolution is set to continue.”

The Times, also owned by News UK, said some of Morgan’s interviews would still be shown on TalkTV.

No TV regulation

Piers Morgan Uncensored also currently airs on Sky News Australia and Fox Nation in the US.

But some of the most watched news and interview shows in the world are now on YouTube, with many of them built around an individual host or group of presenters.

A channel hosted by conservative US political pundit Ben Shapiro has 6.7 million subscribers, while the left-leaning Young Turks news channel has 5.8 million.

YouTube is also free from the regulation of media watchdogs, with Ofcom imposing rules on TV news channels in the UK in areas including political impartiality and offence.

In 2021, Morgan’s controversial comments about the Duchess of Sussex on ITV’s Good Morning Britain sparked a record 58,000 complaints to Ofcom.

The regulator ultimately cleared him, but the furore led him to leave the breakfast show and he went on to join TalkTV.

TalkTV’s other hosts include Vanessa Feltz, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Kevin O’Sullivan.  –