In April 2011, conservative talker Glenn Beck was removed from the Fox News lineup, almost certainly due to his inflammatory and hateful rhetoric. Beck is still talking, however, and, apparently, still making a lot of money doing it.
In the 18 months since Beck left Fox News, his company, Mercury Radio Arts, has seen its revenue double from $40 million to $80 million. Admittedly, this is an impressive growth rate, built on Beck’s business model of bilking his audience by selling them his gift of gab:
Viewers pay a monthly subscription fee of up to $9.95 for access to programming that includes Beck’s two-hour daily broadcast, a children’s show and a reality show. More than 300,000 subscribers have already signed up, a number that, as WSJ notes, already exceeds the average audience of many cable channels, including CNBC and Fox Business Network.
However, GBTV’s rate of growth has moderated considerably from its torrid pace of last summer. From June to September 2012, Beck’s subscriber total nearly tripled, going from 80,000 (the number who subscribed to Insider Extreme, GBTV’s predecessor) to 230,000. That it’s added “only” another 70,000 new subscribers since then suggests that the audience of Beck diehards willing to pay for video content not covered by their cable subscriptions isn’t infinite.
Beck’s no stranger to business scams. Last month, ThinkProgress reported that Goldline, a company that was aggressively touted by Beck and other conservative talkers, had agreed to repay $4.5 million to customers it defrauded. As Yuri Beckelman told ThinkProgress, “It’s unrealistic to think Glenn Beck and other Goldline spokespeople had no clue what was going on. They have a responsibility to their listeners when endorsing products, especially in tough economic times; now it’s up to their fans to hold them accountable.”
The man who once said “we have been sold a lie” that “the poor in America” are suffering and claimed Obama is “intentionally” dismantling the middle class appears content to rake in cash from people who are probably not as well-off as him.