Would You Pay for Glenn Beck TV?

Beck heads to the internet.

You are about to get that chance.

Via the NYTMoving Online, Beck Will Charge Viewers a Fee

On Tuesday, Mr. Beck will announce a first-of-its-kind effort to take a popular — but also fiercely polarizing — television show and turn it into its own subscription enterprise. It is an adaptation of the business models of both HBO and Netflix for one man’s personal brand — and a huge risk, as he and his staff members acknowledged in interviews in recent days.

[…]

The business decision by Mr. Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, hinges on an expectation that more and more people will figure out how to view online shows on their TV sets through set-top boxes and video game consoles — and that they will subscribe directly to their favorite brands.

[…]

GBTV will cost $4.95 a month for subscribers who want to watch only Mr. Beck’s two-hour show, and $9.95 a month for subscribers who want access to all of GBTV. “We want to create a network that has more than just Glenn’s show,” Mr. Balfe said, talking generally but ambitiously about acquiring scripted programming in the future — assuming enough subscribers sign up to justify the costs.

On the one hand, there is actually something to the notion that the future is online streaming of content.  I absolutely adore Netflix streaming, and love the HBO Go app.  We watch Netflix on a variety of devices in my household, so I get the appeal.  However, there is a limit, I would think, to how many individual subscriptions for which people will pay.

Netflix, streaming only, is less than $10/month (more if you want DVDs via mail as well) and their catalog is pretty impressive (and constantly growing).  HBO Go is a adjunct to an existing HBO subscription, so doesn’t cost me any extra.  Likewise, if Charter would ever sign on, the Watch ESPN iPad/iPhone app will be “free” as well.

While I can see some subscription services working, I have to wonder if people would $5 or $10/month for basically one show for such a narrow offering.  More specifically, I suppose I could see some people paying out, but will it be enough to substitute for the kind of money Beck made on cable?  It is an interesting question.

Here’s a description of the proposal:

Eventually, Mr. Beck said, his goal is to have an array of scripted and unscripted shows alongside his own daily show, which will simply be titled “Glenn Beck” and will run for two hours on weekday afternoons.

“If you’re a fan of Jon Stewart, you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy,” Mr. Beck said. “If you’re a fan of ’24,’ you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy.”

What GBTV will not be, he and his associates emphasized, is a news channel.

Part of this is also, it appears, about getting around a non-compete agreement with Fox:

on Sept. 12, “Glenn Beck” will begin. The two-hour show will be scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern time, the same time as Mr. Beck’s current show on Fox, putting him in direct competition with whoever replaces him at the cable news channel. But because it will stream only over the Internet, and not be shown on television, it is not a violation of his exit agreement with Fox. And Mr. Beck’s representatives note that the show will be available on-demand on the Internet, further reducing the competitive element.

Another observation about GBTV in particular:  I am under the impression that Beck’s demographic for his Fox show is mostly an older one (after all, the live show airs when the bulk of the population is still at work).  These strike as people less likely to follow him to an online presentation.*  Along those same lines, I find internet streaming of programs to be most enjoyable either via internet-ready TV devices (like my TiVo) or on my iPad.  I find them less appealing sitting at my desk looking at my computer.  As such, I would speculate that until there is more penetration of the marketplace with easy to use internet-ready TVs that this type of business model may be premature (especially if the demographic is an older one).

In sum:  I am intrigued by the business model and the general shift to streaming programing.  However, I have my doubts about this specific project.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

—-

*Indeed, a lot of them watch Beck because he is what is on between Cavuto and Special Report and, I expect, most of those same viewers will watch whatever new program is inserted in that space.

FILED UNDER: Media, Science & Technology, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Alanmt says:

    To paraphrase Legolas, I’d pay money to be excused from watching it, and double to turn it off if I inadvertently stumbled upon it.

  2. legion says:

    So, Beck gets to grift money directly from his gullible followers, and I don’t have to risk accidentally looking at his smug puss while he does it? Sounds like a win-win…

  3. John Burgess says:

    Since I didn’t watch him when he was free, there’s no way in hell I’d pay to watch him.

    If there are a few million willing to give him free money, then that’s on their wallets. Entrepreneurship can be successful, even for products that I don’t want to buy.

  4. Chad S says:

    Beck, Palin, Dick Morris, Trump…how comes so many figures on the right try to monetize their following?

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    Yes, If I had a job and or some money. I am glad he took my suggestion, but I was thinking free TV:(

    FOX will suck without the crazy man and his blackboards at 4 pm.

  6. mattb says:

    It’s all about the economics of production…

    The “network” model will be a total #fail. It’s way too expensive to produced 24 hrs of totally original content. If he goes the cheap route, and attempts to pump a lot of crap shows on the network, that’s unsustainable unless most of it is animation and interview shows. However actually having something equivalent to the Daily Show requires an investment in talent (remember Fox’s Half Hour News Hour?). And producing anything like 24 requires an exponential jump in budget.

    To make the network work, at least half of it will have to be syndication programs/movies. The problem is that most of that content is already going to be available on services like netflix or itunes — which I think one might assume that a significant portion of his audience already subscribes to. He’s risking a double dip.

    For his show, the model makes sense as I can’t think the production costs for that are particularly high. Plus I’m assuming he’s selling advertising as well. Since this is only him, versus trying to fill an entire network with ads, he should be able to continue to support himself with fringe advertisers versus national brands. And the cost for that is pretty much in-line with premium radio content (I wonder if, as an introductory offer, you would also get access to his radio archives as well).

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Obviously I have no idea how the deal is structured but the likelihood is that 5$ a month probably translates as $1 a head going straight to Beck’s pocket. Then there’s sponsorship money, but low end stuff since as you point out his viewers are in the less-desired embalmed demographic.

    My guess is that there are enough suckers to keep him in chalk boards.

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    Beck, Palin, Dick Morris, Trump…how comes so many figures on the right try to monetize their following?

    lol….figures on the right…lol….

    Good grief….

    Ah forget it….

    You will never understand…

  9. I would pay not to have Beck on my TV

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    I would pay not to have Beck on my TV

    Would you pay to see anyone ? And who?

  11. legion says:

    The “network” model will be a total #fail. It’s way too expensive to produced 24 hrs of totally original content.
    Only because of the self-established standards of what the on-air talent “costs” (read: “are worth”) versus the money charged to advertisers. Network models can work (they did for decades, remember), but only if they don’t price themselves beyond their worth to the audience. It’s not so much the economics of production, but of supply & demand – consumers decide how much a product is worth paying for, not the producers…

  12. Vast Variety says:

    “I would pay not to have Beck on my TV”

    I concur.

    I’d also love it if Mediacom would add a streaming service for shows. I’d even be willing to pay a little extra for it.

  13. sam says:

    @GA

    “Yes, If I had a job and or some money. I am glad he took my suggestion, but I was thinking free TV

    And that, friends, is how you come to understand the Beckian dupeocracy.

  14. ponce says:
  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    And that, friends, is how you come to understand the Beckian democracy.

    sigh….So I should be a half ass beggar/communist like you and support Obama and his socialist construction figures into this again how?

    I would send Beck my money and your money just to be able to tell you about it and pi$$$ you off !

    Now its time for you to beat me up with the things about myself I was warned not to share with people like you.

    simple ****!

    I don’t like you anymore, you win.

  16. sam says:

    Ah, GA, you changed by words, I said, referring to you and your ilk, ‘dupeocracy’. And

    “.So I should be a half ass beggar/communist like you and support Obama and his socialist construction figures into this again how?”

    Come back to us when you stop using Medicaid or Medicare whatever government-supported health care you’re now getting.

    “Now its time for you to beat me up with the things about myself I was warned not to share with people like you.”

    See above, hypocrite.

  17. No. But then I haven’t watched him for free either.

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    I don’t get Jack but some food stamps, barely got them.
    Once AGAIN I am not against helping those in need, damn….

    I don’t have insurance, could not afford it. I do have like a 40k bill from breaking leg. And once again I will ask my rich liberal friends here for help with that….since they care about the poor so ******* much. What Crickets again… Guess I’ll wait till I find a job and start making payments.

    See above, hypocrite.

    lol, Old and Grumpy?

    OR are you really a beggar/communist? I know for sure that I was a convicted felon and that I am a drug addict.

    Stupid uneducated, that matters on what your definition of what stupid and uneducated is.

  19. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Glenn Beck??

  20. Rock says:

    Beck, Palin, Dick Morris, Trump…how comes so many figures on the right try to monetize their following?

    Ask President Barack Hussein Obama II the same question.

  21. Murray says:

    To answer your question, no I wouldn’t pay for Beck TV.

    For Beck on the other hand the question is: can I get enough people to subscribe to watch my nonsense in order to have a VERY comfortable lifestyle?

    The answer to the later could very well be yes (think Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh). Unlike the other FOX stars he’s not a FOX creation. Ailes thought he could use him and in the end Beck used Ailes.

    I recently read an article (sorry I can’t find the link) quoting some of his radio colleagues of the early days. They all pointed out that he was half crazy but incredibly good at creating a niche for himself. Their only surprise was that he managed to make it in the political arena where he’s a total ignoramus.

    Either by design or by pure luck, the “Silver Gofer” has captured the imagination of a sizable niche and will milk it for all that it is worth with his main strong point:: he has no shame whatsoever.

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    Their only surprise was that he managed to make it in the political arena where he’s a total ignoramus.

    ? Everything And I mean EVERYTHING this dude says ends up being true or coming true, even on politics…so…I guess you must be wrong….

  23. Murray says:

    @G.A.Phillips
    I can only guess you are one of his future subscribers. In the meantime, thanks for the laugh.

  24. Wiley Stoner says:

    Since probably very few of those who comment here watch Beck, I wonder what the interest level is about what his business is? I dare a wager. Beck has lied less than Obama. If Beck lies, which he doe not, what is the harm. When Obama lies, there is much harm. Obama lie? Only if his lips are moving.

  25. mattb says:

    @legion

    Only because of the self-established standards of what the on-air talent “costs” (read: “are worth”) versus the money charged to advertisers.

    Agreed… but I don’t think it’s possible to sustain 24/hr compelling network programming that people will shell $10/month on and meet his promise that “If you’re a fan of Jon Stewart, you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy,” Mr. Beck said. “If you’re a fan of ’24,’ you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy.”

    He could easily pull it off if he went to a bunch of local talkers and had cameras put in during their shows (aka the Stern E! model/Imus at MSNBC) or if it was all talk. But the moment he gets into creative/original, I don’t see it working. Or rather, I don’t see how the subscriber fee/ad revenue is enough to pay a staff for a single show let along enough to fill 24hrs (unless it’s all really cheap reality TV).

  26. mattb says:

    @Murray:

    For Beck on the other hand the question is: can I get enough people to subscribe to watch my nonsense in order to have a VERY comfortable lifestyle?

    Agreed. And there is nothing wrong with that. But what you are describing is the huge gap between creating a 1 or 2 hour, subscriber only web TV show AND the creation of a whole network which will only cost an additional $5 more to watch.

    I think Beck is more than capable of selling the prior — the premium web TV show — and that the audience age isn’t as big an issues as people think. In fact, I think that would be a great way for him to sustain a comfortable lifestyle (alongside the radio show, stage productions, and books). In fact, he might even give himself a raise when it’s all said and done (i.e. be making more than on Fox).

    It’s the network where it crashes and burns. I just don’t see it working. It’s not the Huff Post/Big Government… Video production is still too cost prohibitive. My bet is that two years from now, the Glenn Beck Internet TV show still exists but GBTV will have been stillborn.

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    I can only guess you are one of his future subscribers. In the meantime, thanks for the laugh.

    NP. but I got to wait for a job, or till he starts his own network, or till someone downloads it to Kickasstorrents.

    Read up a few posts, you will see:)

    Since probably very few of those who comment here watch Beck

    hey, probably me and you, yet all the rest know him and his show like the back their hand and are his judges.

    What I sad is true about what he says being true and coming true.

    If I only I had the money to invest in gold when Beck said, I would be rich…..And so would his judges….

    lol, I do have a crap load of caned food built up:)

  28. John Weiss says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    “FOX will suck without the crazy man and his blackboards at 4 pm.”

    FOX has a long tradition of sucking like no other “news” channel, Beck or no Beck. Perhaps the Oxycontin Kid would be interested in filling Blubber Boy’s shoes?

  29. G.A.Phillips says:

    FOX has a long tradition of sucking like no other “news” channel, Beck or no Beck. Perhaps the Oxycontin Kid would be interested in filling Blubber Boy’s shoes?

    lol….Dude, your gonna mess with America’s anchorman and the top cable news outlet of all time in the same breath? lol…

    Sigh….

  30. don singleton says:

    I did watch him on Fox (not all of the time, but frequently), and wish he was still going to be on Fox, but I am living on Social Security. I can afford to pay for Cable TV and the Internet, but I can’t afford to pay him $5 or $10 month, just as I can’t afford to pay Pajama TV $5 a month. With PJTV most of the stuff is free if you get it in the first few days; wish Glenn did the same

  31. sam says:

    “I did watch him on Fox (not all of the time, but frequently), and wish he was still going to be on Fox, but I am living on Social Security.”

    Let me guess. You think the Tea Party is the only thing standing between us and tyranny, right?