GBTV: The first in what promises to be a wave of major players moving exclusively to the Internet

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

… Ahhh, politics. They are a hard thing for me to reconcile, actually. All arguments are based on belief and ideology, and I don’t necessarily think it’s proper to ever discount one’s personal opinions (and wow that sounded way too hippie-like as I now read back on that sentence). Let’s be honest: Religion, politics and love are the only three things in the universe that can make the most educated, level-headed, normal, adult person act like a child at the drop of a dime. Not that I discount the entire notion of belief, mind you. Trust me, I know that believing in something — anything — is one of the increasingly few things that allows us humans to journey out of bed in the morning. It’s just that I think it’s silly and unnecessary to react in some of the absurd ways most politicians these days tend to react to disagreements. Connect that with the incessant, over-the-top 24-hour news channel pundits that light up our television screens daily, and what you have is a recipe for loud and obnoxious. And that’s about it. Democrat. Republican. Tea Party. Whichever you choose. Loud and obnoxious.

But speaking of loud and politics …

… How about Glenn Beck? What do you think? Goodness, it’s crazy to think about how devoted people can become to media personalities (and if you don’t think this schtick can be directly traced to the classic way-before-its-time flick “Network,” you, my friend, need a lesson in both movies and rationality). What really makes this nuts is that there aren’t just a few people who love this guy. There are millions of people who love this guy. And not in a Jon Stewart, “it’s kind of funny, ironic and cute” way, either. It’s in a “I will drive my car off a bridge if this guy tells me it’s the right thing for America, no matter the consequences” kind of way — a way that is powerful beyond words.

How powerful, though? Well, interestingly enough, we may soon know that answer.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that the current Fox News pundit is taking his show on the virtual road. And by the virtual road, of course, I mean the Internet, silly (how else could I justify taking to something called “TV Without A TV” to write about such things?). From the Business Insider …

The Times is reporting that Beck will move his TV show online where subscribers will be able to access it for as little as $4.95 a month on the newly launched GBTV,” the site wrote. “Beck’s show will become a two hour nightly event airing live from 5-7 p.m., beginning on 9/12. Also airing on the newly launched Internet channel will be a simulcast of Beck’s three-hour radio show and “The 4th Hour” starring his sidekicks Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere. Over the summer, the channel will feature a behind-the-scenes reality show about the making of GBTV.”

And boom goes the dynamite.

The article later states that Beck knows he may be a bit early to the Internet television train, but, as he said, “I’d rather be ahead of the pack than part of it.” And really, why not? He’s gained an insane amount of fanfare in an insanely quick amount of time. Reports are that he can’t play nice with the heads at Fox News, and at this point, why not try and capitalize on his own popularity by cutting the middle man between him and his followers?

The most interesting tidbit here is easy: 80,000 people have already signed up for a subscription to GBTV and to make up for the $2 million he will be losing by leaving Fox, he needs to garner only a measly 40,000 more subscribers at the $4.95 level (It’s five bucks for access to his television show and $10 for the entire network). As Business Insider puts it, a mere 1/40 of his total typical nightly viewers will have to sign up to make up for the loss. What? And you think that won’t happen?

It’s an eye-catching move and regardless of your own political beliefs, there is no denying that he might just be the first in a pack of pundits who eventually move toward to the same outlet, Democrat or Republican (one has to think Keith Olbermann’s move to Current TV will ultimately result in the same thing, especially if Beck does better than planned during this venture). The world of politics is the only reasonable place for a move like this to work. Think about it: The people who believe in the things you say will pay to hear you say it a lot quicker than they would pay to see who won the latest season of “The Apprentice.” Remember — that simple little notion of belief is a powerful thing, you know.

The move is innovative. It’s not anywhere near as big a chance as people would have thought such a thing would have been 10, five or even two years ago. The money is there for the people who have the ability to capitalize on it. The technology is there to make it easier. And the affordability is there now that the mainstream has caught up with this ever-growing dependence on the Internet. Who could have thought that Glenn Beck would have been the one to usher in this new world of lucrative political commentary? “I have global plans,” he said earlier this week. And he’s not kidding.

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