Andrew Neil’s upstart news channel GB News is battling to arrest a slide in viewers, with its audience halving since its high-profile launch just two weeks ago.
GB News has attracted just over 1m viewers a day in recent days, according to industry figures. This compares to a peak of 2.2m on June 14, its first full day on the air.
The data from BARB, which compiles television ratings, is likely to add to questions about the prospects for the right-leaning station, whose launch has been beset by technical difficulties, an advertising boycott and an unexpected break for Mr Neil, its star presenter.
While GB News has consistently beaten its rival Sky News during Mr Neil’s primetime 8pm-9pm slot, its average audience sits consistently behind the channel, which it has said it wants to match.
Sky News’ daily audience has averaged between 2.5m and 3m in recent days, while the BBC news channel averages more than 4m. The figures cover broadcast television watching, not viewing on PCs or tablets.
GB News landed on British televisions this month with Mr Neil promising to “puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia”, and opening night figures eclipsed those of Sky and BBC News combined.
However, it has been hit by teething problems such as cut-off feeds and autocue mistakes, with Mr Neil admitting the channel has had a “rocky start” last week when he announced he would take a few weeks off.
Its average audience was around 33,000 last week, down from 42,800 in its first week, according to the BARB figures. While the channel surpassed Sky News and occasionally the BBC during key timeslots in its first week, it has largely fallen behind its rivals since.
Jamie McGowan Stuart of media researcher Enders Analysis said GB News had succeeded in winning over a dedicated audience even if viewing numbers were below what the channel might have hoped for.
“It is becoming clear that fewer and fewer are experimenting with the channel, but it is finding a core audience. There was always going to be a launch pop and then a decline,” he said.
A GB News spokesman did not comment.