Glenn Beck still rails against his usual enemies, from the “hardcore socialist left” to “extreme Islam.” Now there is a new target: mainstream television.
After parting company with Fox News last year, Mr. Beck took his message of outrage and self-reliance online. He launched an Internet video network called GBTV, where he is on air for two hours a day, alongside six more hours of shows, from “Liberty Treehouse,” a history and news program for children, to the reality program “Independence USA,” where a family explores life off the grid.
Ultimately, Mr. Beck said GBTV will become a 24/7 network, with plans to double programming this year. In January, he signed a deal with the production company Icebox —founded by writers from “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” —to create an animated comedy series. He also is readying a documentary about Occupy Wall Street.
On Fox News, Mr. Beck averaged 2.2 million daily viewers and was paid $2.5 million a year. GBTV, which jumped on the scene in September, is expected to bring in at least $40 million in revenue this year, supported by advertising and more than 300,000 subscribers paying as much as $9.95 a month for full access to GBTV, according to a person close to the company.
While it is significantly smaller than his audience at Fox News, it’s still more than an established network like CNBC, which drew an average of 189,000 viewers over the course of the total day in February, according to Nielsen.
To turn that revenue into profit, Mr. Beck keeps costs low by using staff and equipment already in place for other parts of Mercury Radio Arts, Mr. Beck’s multimedia mini-empire, which includes best-selling books, a syndicated radio show that draws some 10 million listeners a week, public events, and Blaze, a news and opinion website. As a result, Mr. Beck’s initial investment in the network was paid off in the first two months, according to a person close to the company.
Some 120 people now work in the wider Beck kingdom, which is expected to bring in $80 million in revenue this year, according to the same person. The business is flush enough now to afford two sets—the one in New York and a second in Dallas, where the network’s headquarters is being built—the capital of Glenn Beck Inc.