Many Internet entrepreneurs love the idea that consumers can pay for the exact content they want without dealing with the vagaries of advertising. But after a while these same business professionals think, "Wait. Maybe I can monetize a little more."
Ex-Fox News host Glenn Beck took his efforts to the Internet about a year ago, just after his ouster from the cable network. For a while, his Internet-based programming service TheBlaze (formerly GBTV) claimed some 300,000 monthly subscribers. At around $100 a year (or $9.95 a month), this would bring Beck and his company Mercury Arts a tidy sum of $30 million a year. By any stretch of the imagination, that’s far more money -- less production expenses -- than Beck earned through his annual Fox News contract. It also lessens the need for national advertisers – the one thorn for any controversial, perhaps fringe, political host.
At his best, Beck pulled in around 3 million prime-time viewers on Fox. Now, he claims 300,000 Internet subscribers, additional audience from his radio show, and 9 million monthly uniques from TheBlaze website.
But as any good business entrepreneur dreams, more is better. Dish Network has agreed to carry TheBlaze as a 24/7 network. Mercury will get a small, undisclosed monthly subscriber fee. Dish has around 14 million overall subscribers.
But the bigger question is, “How much, if at all, will national advertisers be part of this new effort?”
To get TheBlaze, TV customers will have a choice. They can get it by subscribing to Dish's big 250-channel monthly service. Or, if they have a lesser-priced Dish service, they can pay an extra fee (around $5) like they do for HBO or some regional sports networks.
So it seems TheBlaze has some solid financial backing and now wants to look for national marketers like every other cable network. The Dish/Beck announcement made no mention of business specifics in this regard. (One current marketer on TheBlaze website includes the Tax Resolution Services Company).
Lowered ratings -- and the usual result of such metrics, lower advertising revenues -- contributed to Beck’s downfall at Fox News. Some controversial statements by Beck also sent marketers running.
How big a picture will advertisers play in Beck's new TV venture? For many, it's a non-story in the Beck 2.0 TV adventure.