Give Glenn Beck credit. The wacky, sometimes irresponsible TV commentator looks to be one astute businessman. Or he has some smart people around him. Or he has many more rabid fans than people on the Upper West Side can believe.
There was speculation that Beck was forced out at Fox News because Roger Ailes wanted nothing to do with him. Some reports had it he was too "out there" -- even for Ailes, which takes some doing. Also, that advertisers were running scared and viewers were sick of his serpentine, stream-of-consciousness diatribes.
There was chuckling when the right-winger moved to establish his own online video network. Who would pay $5 a month to access this GBTV thing? What kind of ego did this guy have?
His harangues didn’t really indicate he was too straight-jacketed, but Beck says he left Fox News on his own because he felt constricted there.
It’s hard to imagine that he ever envisioned it -- TheNew York Times says he did -- but now Beck has his own TV network. Only a few years behind Oprah.
Dish Network said Wednesday that TheBlaze – the former GBTV -- will run on its service reaching 14 million homes. Customers can subscribe for $5 a month a la carte and get Beck and Beck-influenced programming 24/7/365 -- perhaps until the world ends, as Beck might say is imminent.
In its announcement, Dish was bold enough to position Beck as part of the establishment -- something Beck might outwardly detest, yet secretly relish.
“TheBlaze joins Dish's selection of news and commentary programming representing all points on the political spectrum, including MSNBC, BBC America, CNN, Current, Comedy Central and Fox News,” Dish said.
Has Beck ever been mentioned in the same sentence as the BBC? Is Jon Stewart giggling or insulted?
Dish and Beck might be made for each other with their willingness to challenge Big Media. Beck and Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen might be card-carrying members of the 1%, but they’ll blast away at the plutocracy nonetheless.
Dish is in the middle of a brutal battle with the major TV networks -- a fight that could make Beck vs. Democrats look like friendly arm wrestling. Networks are apoplectic over Dish’s DVR functionality that automatically skips their commercials. They’re suing and issuing threats.
Dish customers will get TheBlaze free until Sept. 26, giving them ample opportunity to get Beck’s take on how the country is heading for oblivion after election day, if not before. Besides all the money Beck could collect from Dish, he’ll still maintain his online network. The Times says he has 300,000 paying customers, which could mean revenues are as much as $36 million a year. Beck also has his radio show and all kinds of other ventures.
(TheBlaze even has a kids’ show, so if the world continues, Beck can influence the next generation and keep bringing in the cash.)
Chris Balfe, who heads Beck’s multimedia empire, told The New York Times that TheBlaze is aiming to be in every pay-TV home in America -- all 100 million or so.
That’s it? Beck isn’t saying every corner of the world?
Love him or hate him, it would be hard today to doubt him.