The Glenn Beck Show is moving to the internet. Not just his primetime program, but his radio program and other original content will all be found on GBTV, officially announced today on his website.
Glenn Beck had been a breakout star for the Fox News Channel, maintaining the third highest rated show on all of cable news. Rumors of tensions between Beck and Fox began to circulate and in April he announced that he would be ending The Glenn Beck Show on Fox. Though still popular, his ratings have taken a plunge and the show has been hit with advertiser boycotts due to its controversial nature. Many say that he was edged out due to these reasons. Others contend that Beck wanted a way out of what he felt was a restrictive media machine.
Today, Beck announced his official move to the web with the launch of GBTV. Glenn Beck TV will be a paid service, costing regular members $4.95 a month or $49.95 a year and plus members $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year.
The big deal about GBTV is that it will house his live show, which looks to be the carryover of his Fox News Show. The two-hour show will air weekdays from 5 to 7 pm starting September 12th. All content will be in HD and available on the iPhone, iPad, and Roku.
If users pay more for the plus subscription, they will get access to the video broadcast of Beck's 3-hour radio program airing from 9 am to 12 pm, "exclusive documentaries" and other features like access to "The 4th Hour," a continuation of the radio program with special guests and call-in segments.
Glenn Beck's media company Mercury Radio Arts has already been providing this type of content on the internet. Mercury Radio Arts runs theblaze.com, a conservative news blog. In March of 2010, they announced "Insider Extreme," a subscription service that granted access to the video broadcast of Beck's radio program as well as the "exclusive documentaries." They report that 80,000 people are currently singed up for this service. It looks like GBTV is an expansion on this, merging all of that content into the plus version of its subscription - thus upgrading insider extreme members to GBTV plus members. The new, and most important aspect of GBTV looks to be the new evening show.
“GBTV is the future,” said Glenn Beck. “The confines of traditional media no longer apply. GBTV is about getting active in the community, participating in stories, and finding new ways to deliver news, information and entertainment directly to the audience.”
The internet is the perfect place for a guy like Beck to broadcast. He will now have the ability to say whatever he wants, without the fear of butting heads with Fox News, and losing tons of advertisers. Plus he already has a loyal following and has basically become his own brand. Time will tell, however, if Beck's audience will be willing to make the switch to the internet. The subscription part won't be a problem, I presume, as his fans are very enthusiastic about him.
No matter what you think about Beck, his politics and his controversies, his transition is probably a very smart play. The potential is there for GBTV to bring in loads of revenue for Beck. If 80,000 people are already signed up for Insider Extreme, that's around 10 million dollars taken in already.
Say Beck just gets a small chunk of his million-plus viewers to jump on board GBTV? Forbes points out that if only 50,000 sign up, even at the lower $4.95 monthly rate, Beck will be taking in more than he currently makes from his Fox News show. Most of Beck's revenue comes from radio and book sales, so any additional money from the primetime show on GBTV will be a bonus.
Beck's move to the internet also raises the more general question - Is the internet going to become the legitimate new outlet for big name news and radio personalities? If anything, Howard Stern has proven that it can be done -
The benefits of the internet are also the drawback for media personalities: they're on their own. If they constitute enough of a draw for viewers, it can really work. Then they have the freedom to run things how they want to run them. I guess we'll see if Glenn Beck's viewership was tied more to the man himself or the power of the Fox News umbrella.
Beck will host a live kickoff event tomorrow at 7 pm ET to explain GBTV, available on glennbeck.com and his Facebook page. His last show at Fox is reported to be airing June 30th.