Media outlets have been buzzing about the launch of GBTV this week and the consensus is in: Glenn Beck is back, and he's big. Below, The Blaze has pulled a sample of what they're saying:
When someone says 'future of media' is the first person who jumps to mind Glenn Beck? No? Maybe he should be.
Beck launched his new subscription only GBTV show on Monday night. Ahead of the launch the Wall Street Journal reported that 230,000 people had already subscribed for the show at $9.95/month, which among other things put Beck's company on track to pull in $20 million this year (that's $17 million more than Beck's contract at Fox News).
It also meant that Beck had attracted more subscribers to his Internet network than Oprah had attracted viewers to her television network in June (156,000).
Not a bad way to start.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a man who held a rally on the National Mall in August, Beck is aiming big.
"We view GBTV as Netflix in a way, as HBO in way," said Beck. "People know when you go to HBO it's good quality. My audience is loyal because they don't necessarily know what I'm going to do, but they know it will be worth their time, I try not to waste their time, and it will be good quality."
The show itself looked nearly identical to Beck’s FNC program, though there were some technical hiccups along the way, including a TelePrompTer issue at the end of comedian Brian Sack's segment. Nonetheless, the show did not feel like a program on the internet. That was an intentional decision, Beck says:
“My first goal was to put on a show and have people say, ‘oh, that is not a webcast,’” he says. “[Fox News and CNN have] the resources of Murdoch and Turner, we can get into the ballpark of that on day one. Let us just stabilize this system, as you saw in the end with Brian, we are pushing the envelope and doing things we shouldn’t be doing right now. We have a lot to work out.”
“We are trying to deliver television over the internet, not internet television,” [Mercury Radio Arts President Chris] Balfe added.
GBTV is ultimately a perpetual work-in-progress, with Beck and Balfe looking to add interactive elements as time goes on. As Beck told us in his studio, while it is his baby, his hope is that GBTV can move beyond him.
“I think both of our aspirations right now are that GBTV becomes like ESPN where no one remembers what the letters mean,” Balfe says.
"We're pushing the envelope and doing things that we shouldn't be doing right now," Beck said. "We have a lot to work out. Give us six months and we'll change the way it's consumed."
Beck vowed he would shake things up once viewers are comfortable watching his show on a laptop or iPad. He doesn't want the program to be a passive experience.
If viewers are unsure about a topic Beck is discussing on the show -- for instance, QE3, a potential third round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve -- they might be able to click words on the on-screen chalkboard to open up windows offering additional information. Viewers could also then find past Beck monologues on QE3, ranging from the most basic explanation to more advanced discussion allowing them to "go past the show."
Beck also plans to start using Skype during the show to increase viewer interaction.
"We just want people to be comfortable and say, 'I know what this is,'" Beck said, referring to the network's early focus. "Then we'll introduce piece by piece the different things that say, 'Oh wait, this is something entirely different. This is not television.'"
Last night, Beck opened his show by discussing the verdict in the trial of a man accused of killing an entire Israeli family and then segued into 110 minutes of warning his audience that the world was going to collapse and capitalists would be scapegoated. Not exactly the perfect material for a comedian to follow. Having interned on a televised comedy talk show before, I know just how much thought is put into audience warm up and, despite Sack having a couple of very devoted fans in the Beck’s small studio audience, I wondered if this was really the best way to preview the show.
Of course, this crystallizes what makes the whole endeavor so fascinating. Right now, in most people’s eyes, GBTV is still, literally, “Glenn Beck Television.” And, while they clearly have a number of plans for the network’s centerpiece show (Beck spent a lot of time talking up a number of upcoming technological innovations dealing with host/audience interactivity), perhaps the biggest thing to watch for is whether or not they can successfully launch these disparate shows.
Going by Balfe’s ESPN comparison, it’s interesting that the best possible thing right now for Beck would be for him to fade into the background.
And HuffPost's Gene Marks, a business management columnist who describes himself as "not a fan...[but] not a detractor either" said the launch made Beck "the ultimate small business guy:"
Beck, like many entrepreneurs, has a thick skin. He takes his lumps. He has his opinions. And some of them are ... well ... kind of out there. But he never seems to really lose his cool. This is also a trait of successful business people. Men and women startup their companies because they're convinced that their ideas are good. These same people get turned down, and in often cases mocked, by potential investors who disagree with the potential of their ideas. We've all heard the stories of the entrepreneur who's been turned down 87 times before finally getting that financing and then building a billion-dollar company. It's all about having that thick skin, taking criticism professionally, never losing your cool, moving forward with your passion and not letting the haters get you down. Agree or disagree with Beck, this is exactly what he does. Any small business owner can appreciate that.
Not bad. It seems the phrase the network has been using -- "The network of tomorrow, a day early" -- is spot on.