Opinion Brief

Glenn Beck's 'revolutionary' GBTV network: Will viewers pay?

The Fox News host is leaving his TV show at month's end, and betting that his fans will follow him to a subscription-based online network

Will viewers pay to watch Glenn Beck? The conservative firebrand will find out soon. Beck, who is leaving Fox News at the end of the month, announced Tuesday that he'll be moving his daily show online, as part of a subscription-based site called GBTV. Viewers who pay $4.95 a month, or $49.95 a year, will be able to watch Beck's two-hour live show, which will air weekday evenings starting Sept. 12. Premium subscribers who shell out $9.95 a month, or $99.95 a year, will also get access to live video of Beck's three-hour radio show and other content. Beck and his company, Mercury Radio Arts, are betting that viewers will increasingly subscribe "directly to their favorite brands," rather than to cable providers, says Brian Stelter in The New York Times. But this "first-of-its-kind" move is a "huge risk." Will it pay off for Beck?

The GBTV model may be "revolutionary": Beck says he wants to be "leading the pack" into the digital future, and he just might do it, says Jon Bershad at Mediaite. We may have reached the point "when television viewers subscribe to networks themselves," instead of paying for cable packages "with hundreds of channels they don't want." If we've reached that tipping point, Beck's new network "may actually be as forward-thinking and revolutionary as all the marketing talk makes it sound."
"Glenn Beck is heading online, announces new two-hour, subscription-based show"

Beck's show may fare better online, anyway: "The internet is the perfect place for a guy like Beck," says Josh Wolford at WebProNews. He'll have the freedom "to say whatever he wants, without the fear of butting heads with Fox News and losing tons of advertisers." And he has loyal fans who may well be willing to subscribe, though surely some of his audience was drawn in through "the power of the Fox News umbrella." Still, this "is probably a very smart play."
"Glenn Beck launches GBTV, a subscription internet network"

It won't take much for Beck to turn a huge profit: The business model for Beck's venture "immediately vaults him to the forefront of media innovation," says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. Beck already has 80,000 customers paying $9.95 a month for an online subscription service called Insider Extreme. If he can get just 50,000 of his more than 1 million Fox News viewers to pay $4.95 a month, "he’ll already be earning more from GBTV than Fox was paying him." And that's before he sells any ads on his online network. "For a guy who always seems to think the apocalypse is just around the corner, Glenn Beck has been doing some pretty keen thinking about the digital future."
"Why the web could make Glenn Beck richer than TV ever did"

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