Dec 22, 2020 - Economy

The real competitor to Trump TV


The conservative media company that owns BlazeTV has quietly been building a massive subscriber base, a direct threat to any digital TV effort being floated by President Trump and his allies, sources tell Axios.

By the numbers: Blaze Media — which was created as a result of the 2018 merger between The Blaze, a pay-TV network founded by Glenn Beck, and CRTV, an online subscription network that owns Conservative Review — now has 450,000 paid subscribers to BlazeTV, paying on average $102 a year.

The big picture: Blaze Media's business model offers a blueprint for how to build a successful partisan media network with little overhead, in a post-cable world.

  • BlazeTV, the OTT channel, is the cornerstone of the business. But the company also runs a sizable podcast platform, the Blaze Podcast Network, which caters to personalities that already have massive radio and social media followings, like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck.
  • The company also has a 24/7 digital TV channel called Live, which is available to BlazeTV subscribers and is also available on ViacomCBS’ free streaming channel Pluto TV.. Its digital linear radio stream, Blaze Radio, is available on its website and on the iHeartRadio app.
  • The podcast network, along with Blaze Live, Blaze Radio and its website, serve as a marketing funnel to its lucrative BlazeTV product, while also bringing in additional ad revenue.

Prior to the merger, The Blaze had a traditional TV channel. It yanked the channel off the air to focus on building a digital empire that it thought would have more staying power and give the company greater control of its distribution.

  • "It wasn’t without risk because we were walking away from a substantial amount of revenue, but we wanted to focus on better positioning ourselves for where we see things going within the next 3 to 5 years," emails Blaze Media CEO Tyler Cardon. "It was the right call, even in the short-term. Ad revenue is up 70% year-over-year.”

Between the lines: Unlike Fox News or even cable upstarts like Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), Blaze Media is truly an identity brand.

  • Its business has been built around outspoken conservative personalities that have already proved successful in building massive, loyal audiences, like Levin and Beck, as well as Dave Rubin, and Phil and Jase Robertson from "Duck Dynasty."
  • The company, headquartered in Texas, bills itself as a commentary and entertainment network that caters to everyday people, not a traditional news company headquartered in a big coastal city.

The bottom line: For large swaths of the population, credibility in 2020 is about authenticity instead of objectivity. The Blaze's offering, designed to feel authentic instead of authoritative, leans into what people are willing to pay for.

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