TheBlaze TV launching on cable and satellite providers nationwide TODAY beginning with DISH Network

Today marks the one-year anniversary of GBTV (now TheBlaze TV). When we launched, our stated goal was to deliver TV over the Internet, not Internet TV. And while streaming video over the Internet was not a revolutionary concept, nobody had ever tried to launch a brand new, online-only, HD-quality TV network before. But that’s Glenn—innovation and risk-taking are part of his DNA. Where others see impossibility, he sees opportunity. (That is one reason why the first-ever show to run on the new network was live from Israel! Glenn never thinks small.)

Twelve months later I am happy to report that we’ve succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. Despite the technical hurdles that are unique to watching our network, over 300,000 people have chosen to subscribe, giving TheBlaze TV a paid audience that’s larger than most free cable channels!

Unsurprisingly, this success has caused some of the major TV distributors to stand up and take notice. In fact, many of the top names in cable and satellite TV have inquired about adding TheBlaze TV to their channel lineups. As a result, we are excited to announce the next chapter in our expansion: TheBlaze TV will be carried on cable and satellite providers nationwide, beginning today with DISH Network. This expansion is in addition to our continued availability as a direct-to-consumer online subscription.

The last year has taught us a lot about running a network and delivering great content to consumers. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of what we’ve learned and how that has impacted our decision to begin partnering with cable and satellite companies.

Prior to our initial launch I was often asked why we didn’t pursue a traditional cable channel. There were several factors, but the biggest was that we wouldn’t have been able to build the channel we wanted back then without giving up control. To get on the air we would have had to partner with a large media company that could provide us with the staff, infrastructure, and distribution necessary to launch a new network. That was something that we simply were not willing to do. The whole point of starting our own network was to be free from outside influences—giving that independence up right away in exchange for distribution was a non-starter. And so we found another way.

But now, a year later, everything has changed. Our subscribers’ enthusiasm and support has allowed us to make the necessary investments in programming and infrastructure, and we’re now in a position to launch a cable and satellite channel without losing control. We have the best staff, the best talent, world-class facilities and great distribution partners lined up, and we’ve done it all while ensuring that we answer to no one except our own audience.

As we take this next step we are working tirelessly to ensure that we bring all of the advantages we have as a direct-to-consumer streaming network to cable/satellite TV. Here are some thoughts on what we’ve learned, and what we’re going to take with us.

  • Direct Audience Connection. Media fragmentation has been accelerating for as long as “media” has existed, but the pace of new options now entering the marketplace is staggering. A year ago I’d never heard of BuzzFeed, and now I can’t stop hearing about it. It doesn’t  matter if your distribution medium is “narrowcast” or “broadcast,” having a direct connection with your fans is crucial to engagement. For example, even though I pay for HBO GO through Time Warner Cable, the weekly promotional email comes to me directly from HBO. No matter how viewers decide to consume the TheBlaze TV, we will continue to have a direct connection with them.
  • Advertiser Support.  There is over $100 million spent each year on national talk radio programs by advertisers who don’t care about politics on one side or the other, but simply want to reach consumers effectively. Advertising in political content doesn’t make you political, it makes you smart. Our existing clients have achieved great returns on their investments by reaching a large and loyal audience. In fact, we are proud to say that every advertiser that was with us at launch is still with us today. We intend to expand on the early success we’ve had at bringing these talk radio advertisers to TV. (Those same advertisers who spend $100m/year on national talk radio spend, on average, at least 5x more than that on cable TV advertising.)
  • Audience Demand. We expected to be successful, but we never imagined the scale of our success. There are more people paying a dedicated monthly fee to watch our programming online than there are people watching many existing cable channels that they receive for free as part of their cable package. With that being said, no matter how successful we are as a subscription-only service, we can be even more successful if we add cable and satellite distribution to the mix.
  • Viewing Habits. While there is a huge proliferation of “Smart” devices in homes, including Roku, Boxee, AppleTV, game consoles, and Smart TVs themselves, consumers would often rather just “watch TV.” They don’t want to switch inputs or choose from a vast menu of options, they just want to “see what’s on.” To a lot of tech people, that is counterintuitive. Why wouldn’t people want to choose exactly what they want to watch? But those who work in media have known this for a long time. In fact, the reason that the most valuable spot on TV is the spot AFTER American Idol is because people like to “see what’s on.” We’ve witnessed this phenomenon ourselves.  Even though we’ve been offering all of our content both live and on-demand since launch—people can choose to watch any show at any time—over 50 percent of it is still consumed live. In addition, despite our presence on many connected devices, the majority of people watch our network on a PC or Mac, a device that, oftentimes, is not located in an ideal spot in the home. Many people don’t want to watch TV on their computer, they want to watch TV on their TV—and we’d like to make that as simple for them as possible.
  • Transaction Friction. While I believe that we were right about the DELIVERY of content moving to the Internet, I think that PAYMENT for content is going to remain between cable/satellite companies and consumers for the foreseeable future. For all the complaining that consumers do about ever-increasing prices, it’s really an amazing amount of news, information, and entertainment that is delivered for one monthly fee. I don’t think that consumers want to have to subscribe separately to TheBlaze, CNN and HBO from three different places with three different interfaces and get three different monthly charges on their credit card. Cable and satellite companies have created an excellent billing and payment infrastructure with over 100,000,000 customers—it’s smart for us to take advantage of that.
  • Content Delivery over the Internet. No matter how content is currently delivered, that delivery will eventually be over the Internet.
  • Rise of TV Everywhere. When we began planning for TheBlaze TV it seemed that cable and satellite companies were doing more to restrict content than they were doing to make it available across platforms to their customers. The roll-out of TV everywhere has changed the paradigm. Most of the top cable and satellite companies now have robust iPad apps and online viewing experiences, with more coming each day. This trend makes us feel much more comfortable about our long-term ability to provide great content wherever and however our fans want it.

These are just some of the reasons that we’ve decided to begin partnering with cable and satellite companies to bring our content directly to televisions. There will be some exciting changes as a result, but here’s what won’t change:

  • The Best Content. In 1996 Bill Gates wrote a famous article titled “Content is King.” 16 years later it’s obvious that he was right. Cable and satellite providers have come to us because we have great content (currently over 35 hours a week of live, exclusive, original programming) and a large, passionate, engaged audience. These companies are smart enough to know that it’s their job to have the best collection of content so that their customers won’t leave.
  • Commitment to the Internet. Direct subscriptions continue to be a key part of our long-term strategy and we will continue to deliver our content over the Internet. TheBlaze.com gets over 9 million unique visitors per month, making it one of the most heavily trafficked web sites associated with a TV network in America. We believe that this is a huge complementary asset to our TV programming and we will continue to be digital innovators.
  • Independence. We’re one of a very small number of content providers without corporate ownership. Even though our content may be distributed by the major cable and satellite providers, we remain a fully independent company, not subject to the demands of Wall Street, media conglomerates, or pressure groups. We answer only to those who consume our content.

Thank you for your continued support of Glenn Beck and TheBlaze. It’s been an unbelievably exciting year and we are looking forward to this next chapter. With your continued enthusiasm and support we know it will be another huge success.

 

Sincerely,

Christopher Balfe

CEO, TheBlaze

 

Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?