Glenn Beck launches his much awaited Internet-based program today on his GBTV network and The Wall Street Journal notes that the early subscriber numbers point to a potentially lucrative payout for the former Fox News host:
Because Mr. Beck owns the show and the network, he could make substantially more than the $2.5 million salary he got each year at Fox. GBTV is on track to take in more than $20 million in revenue in its debut year, according to a person close to the company.
The television industry will be watching closely to see whether the TV host can preserve his popularity while migrating to the Web, where efforts to get consumers to pay to watch online-only channels are just beginning.
When Mr. Beck announced GBTV in June, the network had 80,000 subscribers. In the months since, GBTV subscribers have swelled to more than 230,000, according to people close to the network, even though Mr. Beck’s show hasn’t yet begun.
The audience is far less than the more than 2.2 million daily viewers his program on Fox drew, on average, over its 27-month run, which ended in June after clashes with the network’s management.
But it is more than the average 156,000 people who were watching the Oprah Winfrey Network in June.
Subscribers will pay $9.95 per month to stream GBTV’s programming on computers and mobile devices connected to the Internet.
Beck has a very loyal fan base and while it isn’t likely that he will reach the numbers he had at Fox, if he attracts just a quarter of his 2.2 million television viewers he would gross over $60 million a year, leaving him with far more than his old Fox salary even after expenses. He’s almost halfway there despite not having broadcast his first program yet, which shows that there is a pent up demand from fans.
Observers will be watching Beck closely to see if he can achieve critical mass and build an online audience at a time when people are still used to receiving their online content for free. If he does then maybe he should thank Media Matters and other leftist critics for helping free him from the constraints of cable tv while padding his bank account at the same time.