GB News Launch Sees Them Capture Audience Triple That of Sky News

It’s all systems go for GB News. Opening with a one hour mission statement from Chairman Brillo (from a tiny, under-lit set which someone on Twitter described as “the inside of a PlayStation“), the fledging news channel finally started broadcasting at 8pm last night. Inevitably, there were teething problems: dodgy cuts, out of sync audio, odd camera angles etc etc. Dark clothes against a dark set just doesn’t work visually. Television is hard.

The aesthetic problems will undoubtedly be ironed out over time. For now, the initial reaction from social media and the punditry went about as you’d expect; Owen Jones tried to dunk on it, the Telegraph gave it four stars. Here’s the full round-up:

  • The Guardian wasted no time in writing it off. No doubt reviewer Stuart Jeffries beamed ear-to-ear as he called it “utterly deadly stuff”, and declared he “give[s] it a year” before it’s taken off-air. He gave it one star, obviously.
  • The Times were more generous: three stars for a channel which “may yet bite“, though marking it down for the obvious technical shortcomings. A running theme amongst most reviews…
  • The Telegraph’s four star review praised its “no sneering” attitude, and said that in spite of the glitches, “GB News is already speaking [the] language” of those frustrated by lockdown. They also made the point that opening with Dan Wootton was probably a mistake: “What the channel cried out for was the firmest hand on the tiller from the go. If you were unsure about GB News’s claims of impartiality, you needed Brazier or McCoy to take your hand on the first night. Wootton will have scared a few nervous horses.” 
  • The Independent joined The Guardian in calling it “a disaster from start to finish“, although The I seemed more impressed, awarding it four stars and saying it “lived up to its billing to offer something very different from the BBC and Sky News.” How kind.
  • The TrotsApp crowd mostly held their tongue, probably because they’re hoping to be invited on the sofa at some point to provide “balance”. Nonetheless, Owen Jones still called it “budget” and Ash Sarkar said it was “all culture war, all the time.” Expect to see Sarkar on the show soon.

GB News were pleased to say launch night saw them average 164,400 viewers, with Sky News garnering only 57,000. Can they surpass Sky News regularly?

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