Feb 8, 2022 - Economy

Exclusive: The Daily Wire says it's a $100M a year business

Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro on set during a taping of "Candace" in Nashville. Photo: Jason Kempin via Getty Images

The Daily Wire, a conservative media outlet best known for its popular podcast "The Ben Shapiro Show," is a $100 million business, according to its CEO and co-founder Jeremy Boreing.

Why it matters: It's one of the few commercially successful conservative media startups to launch in the past few years.

  • Despite a flood of investment in new social media networks and websites, few new entities say how much money they make. Other viral web outlets, like PragerU, are heavily reliant on donors.
  • "Too much of conservative media is powered by non-profits - either literally or functionally," Boreing said.

By the numbers: Boreing says The Daily Wire's 12-month revenue hit $100 million for the first time in January of 2022, up from roughly $65 million for the full year in 2020.

  • The company, which moved to Nashville from Los Angeles in 2020, now has 150 full-time employees, up from 115 this time last year.

Driving the news: The Daily Wire is pushing aggressively into entertainment as a way to attract new members to its paid tier.

  • The company is releasing its first original movie, called "Shut In," for free in the U.S. on YouTube at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday. Its distribution partner, Voltage Pictures, is handling international sales.
  • The thriller, starring Vincent Gallo and Rainey Qualley, will be exclusively available to paid Daily Wire members after it debuts on YouTube.
  • Boreing says the company is debuting the film to a broad audience for free to build credibility, and eventually turn that audience into paid members.

Between the lines: Other conservative subscription outlets, like TheBlaze, focus more on news commentary video rather than scripted dramas.

  • "Entertainment is hard. The investment is significant; the timeline is grueling from a cash perspective," Boreing said. "Thank God for our subscribers."
  • "Creatives are afraid that working with us will get them cancelled; we don’t have the financial resources to produce a high-frequency of content; and the broader film audience is skeptical of our capabilities."

Last year, The Daily Wire debuted its first film called "Run Hide Fight," a school shooting thriller. The YouTube premiere of the film drew over 300,000 viewers across its site and YouTube, a spokesperson said at the time.

  • On Thursday, the company plans to tease its upcoming film, a Western titled “Terror on the Prairie,” starring Gina Carano — who formerly starred in the Disney’s Star Wars spinoff "The Mandalorian," but was fired for controversial comments.
  • The Daily Wire isn't looking to make hyper-politicized films, Boreing told Axios.
  • "We’re not making ‘Christmas Romance in the Rockies' or 'Hillary's Hard Drive Part III."
  • Instead, it's focused on funding thrillers and dramas that appeal to audiences that reject political correctness.

The big picture: The Daily Wire launched in 2015 as an ad-supported business that was mostly driven by Facebook traffic. Today, it's focused on diversifying its revenue.

  • Social: It's still one of the top publishers on Facebook, according to Newswhip, both in terms of engagement and the number of top articles published.
  • Podcasts: The company's hit podcast "The Ben Shapiro" consistently ranks in the top 10 news podcasts on both Spotify and Apple. Its new show, "Morning Wire," tends to land in the top 100 podcasts on both charts, as well as its podcast "Candace," starring Candace Owens, a pro-Trump commentator.
  • Book publishing: The company debuted a new book publishing imprint in October as a place for authors who may be rejected by mainstream presses. It announced a book deal in January with Jonathan Isaac, an NBA player who refused to kneel for the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Video: In addition to its paid tier, where most of The Daily Wire's exclusive films and video content live, the company offers a free, ad-supported video app, called "Daily Wire Now," available on Vizio and KlowdTV.

What's next: Boreing says ecommerce is a "huge area of growth" for the company. The Daily Wire plans to drop its first consumer good offering in May.

Go deeper