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How profitable is Glenn Beck’s new web TV venture?

Glenn Beck is taking his franchise of conservative commentary to the web Monday, streaming the first episode of his new two-hour show exclusively to paying online subscribers. The former Fox News (s NWS) star already has 230,000 subscribers who pay between $5 and $10 per month for access to his GBTV online video network, according to the Wall Street Journal, and BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield estimates (registration required) that Beck could generate $27 million in subscription revenue within a year.

Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici even thinks Beck is on track to “become a $100 million man.” Subscription revenue could eventually reach $135 million, estimates Bercovici. Combined with sponsorships, radio deals and merchandise, Beck “is on course to break the $100 million barrier sooner than later,” writes Bercovici.

However, not everyone buys into the GBTV success story. Keith Olbermann mused on Twitter today that Beck’s initial subscriber number actually is on the low end:

It’s no surprise that Olbermann would be mocking Beck, but he’s got a point when it comes to comparing Beck’s revenue to his previous salary at Fox News: GBTV has to pay bills for production and bandwidth, with the latter increasing with every additional viewer. “Expenses are probably $1 million a month,” estimated Olbermann, which would put Beck just slightly above break-even, depending on which subscription bracket his viewers choose to subscribe to.

Of course, breaking even from day one isn’t exactly a small feat either for a subscriber-only web TV venture. In traditional television, it often takes years before a cable channel actually makes money, and Beck may be ready to compete with some of cable’s audience numbers as well.

The WSJ reported today that Oprah’s new OWN network only had 156,000 people tuning in on average in June. Oprah recently acknowledged that running a cable network is “a lot harder” than she had imagined. Beck may just be about to prove that web TV can actually be easier.

30 Responses to “How profitable is Glenn Beck’s new web TV venture?”

  1. I think it’s great. This show passion for what he believes in, and proves that he does care about his message. If he makes a ton of money doing it, good for him it’s called capitalism and aren’t all these self help books always saying “do something you love,and success will come” so anyone who gives someone shit for doing this shame on you!!!

  2. deo.tyson

    Some guy named “Foo”(lish) described GB as an “insane traitor”… insane might be right, but traitor to whom? He is a patriot in so many ways, foolish one!

  3. Follow the money

    Helped my mom set this GBTV channel up today.
    Should be very easy as I am a seasoned full time IT guy. Had all the pre-requisites and figured it would take less than an hour. Not even close.

    Turns out to be far from a finished product as the ROKU device GBTV channel is a very limited subset of their own GBTV website offerings. GBTV tech support has never seen the Roku device and knows nothing about it (what it should have, how it should work, how to troubleshoot it, etc).

    I guess there were a few things that Fox did well, like providing a TV signal around the world …

    Also wondering why Mr. Beck is pushing Roku so hard as a viewing option to then support the option SO poorly.

    Will never get back those wasted support hours today.

    Mr. Beck will never get rich via their current Roku channel. I predict Best Buy and Radio Shack will be getting many Roku’s back as returns.

    Little Roku device is awesome piece of hardware for every purpose but GBTV.

  4. These are rabid fans. Without his stints or traditional tv and radio there would be no way to build such an audience. It still remains to be seen if the numbers hold up or drop off. Think about it. $5 per month for one show you like? Most people would only be able to afford a few shows at that price. Cable looks like a bargain compared to that. This is not a business model that has long term legs except in special situations.

  5. Olbermann is thinking like a TV producer. Their costs are inflated. You could produce the same content for much less on the web since you don’t have the same legacy costs and personality overhead when you have a “Free” anchor like GB. I suspect he is going to do much more with less, whether you agree with him or not. The only thing that might be hurting him is the advertising costs to acquire users.

    • whats not to like? Glenn has always said ” Don’t believe word I say, Look it up” I have, I love this guy, I’m a full time student and can watch the program anytime I want, I think I am going to cancel my cable, Because, Jon Stewart who I love even though most of his audience are useful idiots, and Glenn Beck is all I need for a fair and balanced , both can be watched on my laptop.

  6. John Rich

    Wow, spectacularly misleading post. GBTV has a 14 day free trial so the real question is how many people stick around and actually pay. Rich Greenfield may need to drop a zero or two on his “estimates.”

    • Juan Fermin

      Actually, Glenn had over 200K members BEFORE he started the free trial. Keep in mind that his $10.00 a month extreme members were automatically rolled into GBTV once it launced.

  7. Digital Pants

    Keith just can’t help himself. Every time he opens his pie hole he makes some dumb comment. Keith has demonstrated he can’t give away his show while Beck is generating millions. Jealous? I think so.

  8. Peter Mullen

    Why are you stepping into a pissing match between idiots? This kind of post severely devalues the GigaOm brand. Usually stellar content, along side garbage like this. Please refrain from future brain farts that lead to this crap. We can always go to HuffPo (useless) for stuff like this.

      • Scott Jensen

        Janko, THANK YOU for covering this. This is something important to cover. The politics of the individual is irrelevant. If he can make a profit doing this, it opens up the flood gates to others trying and the era of online TV will be finally upon us. Please try to get an interview with Beck and/or the people behind the scenes of this venture and give us the technical and business angle.

    • You could not be more wrong. GigaOm covers the web. Like it or not, Glenn Beck has an important web venture and if the name behind the project was not Glenn Beck and not about politics you would welcome the coverage. You have to look past your bias and learn lessons from the coverage that you can apply to your own projects. That is the value I think the reporting from GigaOm brings.