Many people thought Glenn Beck might have been a little bit crazy (little bit?) to leave the safety and support of traditional cable television to launch his internet-based GBTV enterprise. But the news from the Wall Street Journal today may cause even the critics some pause.
Beck's GBTV broadcast will launch at 5PM ET this afternoon, complete with an all-new chalkboard!
The complete Wall Street Journal article, well worth reading, is restricted to subscribers, but here is one nugget :
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.
One writer at Forbes has looked at the numbers and done a little extrapolation:
Analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG Research estimates that GBTV is already generating revenues of $27 million a year from subscription fees by monetizing a mere 1 percent of the total audience for his Fox show, his radio show, his websites (glennbeck.com and theblaze.com) and other outlets. Greenfield envisions Beck increasing that conversion rate to 5 percent, yielding a subscriber base of over 1 million. In that scenario, extrapolating from Greenfield’s current run rate estimate of $27 million, GBTV would be generating $135 million in subscription revenues.
The Forbes writer, Jeff Bercovici, acknowledges that those estimates might be optimistic. But he posits that Beck is on course to the $100 million dollar earnings barrier "sooner than later" when you consider all of his media endeavors.
Deadline New York is running with a headline reading, "Analyst: Media Execs 'Should Be Very Afraid' of Glenn Beck's Web TV Launch."
Mediate looks at it this way:
While Beck’s online venture is still relatively new, it’ll continue to be interesting to observe the different trajectories GBTV and OWN take as they forge their way. Here are two networks, albeit on different platforms, begun by two individuals who are themselves highly recognizable mega-brands. One is gradually building an audience as another is still hoping to find its place on television, and both depend highly on the trust viewers place on their respective founding personalities. Could you imagine what an episode devoted to Beck’s “favorite things” might pan out? Sales of chalk could go through the roof.