I signed on for the ten bucks a month fee to watch Glenn Beck’s GBTV in early August. I wanted to watch his three-day Restoring Courage event in Israel. It was excellent.
I have grown very disenchanted with Fox News’ alleged “news” operation and have been for some time. If you wonder why, read this piece about Roger Ailes, and you’ll understand why I’ve turned off my TV set. That, and the lies Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly engaged in about Obama’s alleged birth certificate. That was the final straw for me. I never looked at Kelly the same way after that. Total loss of credibility. Of course, O’Bloviator has never held any appeal for me anyway.
Since I’ve been home from the TPX tour, I’ve spent some time with my computer watching Beck’s first three shows (5 to 7 pm ET) and I’m here to tell you that it is the best $10 I have spent this month, or any other month. I’m hooked. THIS is intelligent television, with information given in context.
Here’s Business Insider’s take on GBTV.
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 St 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.
Naturally the proof is in the pudding and those sorts of numbers put Beck in the unusual position of being profitable before necessarily being influential.
Judging from what Beck and company tell us they have planned they don’t plan on that being the case for long (the White House apparently concurs). The big question thus far appears to be how quickly consumers will adjust to getting their TV over the Internet, and whether Beck will be able to appeal to an audience outside his already large following now that he’s no longer just a click away.
Last night I visited the Glenn Beck show along with three other reporters and got a first hand look at the show followed by a set tour from the man himself.
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 is currently being broadcast from a basement studio in midtown east, though Beck says there are plans in the works to move it to Texas early next year, where it will greatly expand.
Thus far Beck–who is much taller, and thinner, and likable in person than the camera would lead you to believe–is doing the show in front of a small live audience, some of whom arrived with gifts for Beck last night and a number of whom weren’t shy about talking back (albeit) quietly to what they were hearing (we arrived during Beck’s final four points: “is Obama insane?”…answer: no).
The show is still a work is progress, with the cast and crew feeling out what can and can’t be done–last night the clock ran out on comedian Brian Sack before he finished his monologue–apparently the feed cuts off at five on the dot.
It’s also an hour longer than Beck’s Fox show, a “marathon” he tells me, “it feels like an eternity.”
The set itself has taken the nostalgic feel of Beck’s old Fox set to a new level; the walls are covered with numerous television sets from various era and there is a “library” in one corner. It also houses a three-dimensional chalkboard, reportedly the most expensive ever made. At one point Beck says “this is us, downscaled.” Chris Balfe, his business partner, and president of Mercury Arts, is quick to jump in: “no, it’s not.”
And it certainly doesn’t look it. Especially for viewers at home, the show streams in better definition than many a TV set I’ve owned.
“My first goal” says Beck, “was to put on a show and have people say, ‘oh, that is not a webcast.’ [The other networks] have the resources of Murdoch and Turner, we can’t get into the ballpark of that on day one. Let us just stabilize this system…we are pushing the envelope and doing things we shouldn’t be doing right now. We have a lot to work out.”
Meanwhile the place they want to work to sounds like something out of Star Trek. Beck envisions a show that will be entirely interactive so that viewers will be able to touch things they see on their screen and explanatory windows will pop up. Or past monologues dealing with similar subjects will appear (a work-intensive feature since Beck doesn’t own the rights to any of his Fox content).
The ideal result, says Beck, will be a show that appeals to everyone: “If you’re dumber than the show, great this show’s for you. If you’re smarter than the show, great, this show’s for you, because you can educate yourself either direction.”
And again, the key to that widespread appeal will be attracting an audience beyond those already loyal to the Beck brand.
To that end, GBTV intends to license older shows for broadcast (I Love Lucy and Bonanza come up but Balfe notes nothing is settled yet). He’s also making everything available on iPad and iPhone with the intention of attracting younger viewers (Balfe, who is in his early 30’s, notes he watched the show in the back of a cab on his iPad).
And this may be news to some viewers, but Beck says he’s not interested in being a “conservative stick in the mud. We’re going to push you up against the wall, life is about challenges.”
Also? It’s not all about Glenn Beck.
Beck says his goal is to make people forget what GBTV stands for in the same way people no longer remember what ESPN stands for. “I don’t want it about me, I want it bigger than me.” Hello, America.