Glenn Beck’s GBTV Becomes Official, Will Use Subscription Business Model

By Alex Weprin Comment

In late May, TVNewser broke the news that outgoing Fox News host Glenn Beck would be launching a web-based TV network called GBTV later this year, after he leaves the channel. Today, Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, formally announced the service.

GBTV is live at now, with select programming already available. Beck will take his Fox News show to GBTV starting September 12. The show will air every weekday from 5-7 PM ET, and will also be available on demand. As we reported, former FNC executive Joel Cheatwood will be in charge of programming for the web TV network.

The service will use a subscription model, so users can pay $4.95 per month for access just to Beck’s show, or $9.95 for a premium membership with access to all of the site’s programming. It will also feature advertising, providing the dual-revenue stream model that cable networks have.

The New York Times reports that the technology behind GBTV will be powered by MLB Advanced Media, Major League Baseball’s digital unit. MLBAM provides technology to a wide range of customers, including professional athletes and companies.

“Lots of people are talking about the digital content revolution, but few are willing to risk it all and place a huge bet on the future,” said Christopher Balfe, President & COO of Mercury Radio Arts in a statement. “With GBTV, Mercury is doing just that. Fortunately, our incredible team at Mercury, as well as our industry-leading business partners, makes me confident that we will once again build something extraordinary.”

More information in the official announcement, below.


New Network Has Over 80,000 Committed Paying Subscribers,
and Will Debut on Computers, iPhones, iPads and Roku on 9/12

(New York, NY, June 7th, 2011) Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck’s multi-media production company, unveiled GBTV – a live streaming video network featuring Glenn’s new daily two-hour show and a wide range of original and licensed information and entertainment programming. All programs will be broadcast in HD and will be available live or on-demand across multiple viewing platforms. Select shows on the network, which already has over 80,000 paying subscribers, are currently available, and others will come online over the months leading up to the full launch on 9/12.

Glenn’s two-hour show will be broadcast live weekdays from 5 to 7PM ET from a newly-built set designed by Glenn and his team at the iconic NEP Studios in Midtown Manhattan. The show will feature Glenn’s unique fusion of entertainment and enlightenment and will include contributors like Mercury’s own S.E. Cupp and Brian Sack. Joel Cheatwood, the former Fox News Channel executive who joined Mercury earlier this year, has been appointed President of Programming for all of GBTV and will oversee Glenn’s show.

Cheatwood will also be responsible for the production and acquisition of all content for the network. In addition to Glenn’s new show, GBTV will launch with two other programs: A six camera simulcast of Glenn’s three hour radio show and “The 4th Hour” starring Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere. The network will continue to add a variety of scripted and un-scripted content produced by Mercury and other companies and has already signed a development deal with award winning and critically acclaimed television producer and #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor, who has sold over 2 million copies of his books nationwide. Further information about content deals and plans will be announced over the summer.

“GBTV is the future,” said Glenn Beck. “The confines of traditional media no longer apply. GBTV is about getting active in the community, participating in stories, and finding new ways to deliver news, information and entertainment directly to the audience.”

Mercury’s decade-long relationship with Clear Channel Communications will extend to the promotion of GBTV across over 100 of Clear Channel’s spoken word radio stations, reaching over 13 million listeners per month. Clear Channel’s ability to drive consumers to action makes them a leading choice for national advertisers.

“We’ve had a long history of success with every business that Glenn and Mercury have brought to us,” said John Hogan, President and CEO, Clear Channel Radio. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide a broad promotional platform for GBTV and to promote Mercury’s vision of the future to millions of consumers.”

Christopher Balfe, President & COO of Mercury Radio Arts, will oversee all of GBTV. “Lots of people are talking about the digital content revolution, but few are willing to risk it all and place a huge bet on the future,” Balfe said. “With GBTV, Mercury is doing just that. Fortunately, our incredible team at Mercury, as well as our industry-leading business partners, makes me confident that we will once again build something extraordinary.”

Starting today and running through the launch of Glenn’s new show on 9/12, the network will feature an exclusive behind-the-scenes reality show about the making of GBTV. GBTV subscribers will also get access to a video simulcast of Glenn’s daily three hour radio program, original documentaries, and in-depth coverage of live events, such as Glenn’s landmark trip to Israel in late August.

GBTV is owned and operated by Mercury Radio Arts, Inc., and the entire cost of building GBTV has been invested by Mercury. Carolyn Polke, Mercury’s VP of Digital, will oversee the technology and operations. Technology services will be provided by Sports on Earth, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media.

GBTV is built from the ground up for social sharing. The GBTV Facebook page will reward fans with virtual currency for actions such as “checking in” to the show or sharing information with their friends. The currency can then be used to unlock exclusive content, such as downloads of documentaries, discount codes, etc.

New subscribers can join GBTV immediately at . Subscriptions are $4.95/month for access to Glenn’s two-hour daily show only, or $9.95 for GBTV Plus, which offers the complete network of programs, including the radio simulcast, documentaries and special events. For a limited time, all new subscribers can join at the $4.95 rate.

GBTV will employ a hybrid business model, with support from both subscriptions and advertisers. Kraig Kitchin, the former president of Premiere Networks who joined Mercury earlier this year, will be responsible for cross-platform advertising sales leveraging all of Mercury’s digital properties.

Tomorrow night (June 8th) at 7PM EST, Glenn will host a free streaming event on to discuss GBTV.

Since launching Insider Extreme in March of 2010, users have initiated over 35 million streams. Insider Extreme’s 80,000 subscribers who have been paying $9.95 a month for that service will automatically be upgraded to GBTV Plus.

About Mercury Radio Arts

Mercury Radio Arts is Glenn Beck’s fully integrated multi-media production company. Mercury produces all Glenn Beck related properties including The Glenn Beck Program, America’s third highest-rated radio show, Beck’s New York Times bestselling books, and his live stage-show business.

Mercury’s digital platforms now include , the fan portal; GBTV, the live streaming video network; , the e-commerce site for connecting consumers with valuable discounts; and , the News & Information network. The Mercury Digital network receives over 6 million unique visitors per month.