Election 2012

Beck Takes His Conservative Internet Shows to the Dish Network

Brian Stelter|The New York Times

Glenn Beck is bringing his brand of conservative commentary back to the television set.

Glenn Beck

One year after embracing an Internet-only distribution model, Mr. Beck is repositioning his streaming network, TheBlaze TV, as an offering for cable and satellite operators — in other words, TV the old-fashioned way.

On Wednesday, he will announce an agreement with the Dish Network, the first of what his company hopes will be many such deals.

TheBlaze TV, an Internet television network, will remain available via the Web for its 300,000 paying subscribers, including those not subscribing to Dish. But the distribution deal with Dish gives Mr. Beck, formerly a host on Fox News, a new way to reach viewers that may be adopted by other Internet entrepreneurs seeking a way into traditional television.

“Our success over the past year has given us the ability to go on traditional television while maintaining complete creative control and freedom and remaining at the center of the Internet revolution,” Mr. Beck said.

Despite all the hoopla about online viewing and devices to connect the Internet to television sets — TheBlaze TV promised online subscribers it was easy to do — a lot of people still just want to see what is on TV the easy traditional way.

“We’d like to make that as simple for them as possible,” said Chris Balfe, the president of Mr. Beck’s media company, Mercury Radio Arts, in a blog post that will accompany the announcement on Wednesday. The channel will begin on Dish at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Since Mr. Beck, 48, and Fox parted ways in the summer of 2011, the conventional take on Mr. Beck has been that although he was making more money online than at the cable network, he was reaching far fewer viewers than he was on Fox. There, he peaked at over three million viewers a night.

Mr. Beck, however, asserted in an interview that his company over all “now reaches more people across more platforms than ever before.” He hosts what continues to be a hugely popular syndicated radio show, free over the airwaves, as well as the nightly subscription-only show on TheBlaze TV. Mr. Beck said his company more than doubled its revenue over the last year and a half.

Cutting deals with cable and satellite companies was in the back of Mr. Beck’s mind when he adapted the streaming-movie business model of Netflix for his online network, originally called GBTV. He acknowledged that he was asking a lot of his fans to seek him out online at the outset.

Looking back a year later, he said his priority was control: both the “freedom to try new things” from a business standpoint and the flexibility to “do whatever show I wanted when I wanted” and program other shows from a creative standpoint. Online, he has done that. “Over the past year and a half, we have eliminated every disadvantage to being on traditional television,” he said.

Still, the deal with Dish Network may be interpreted as a sign that Internet distribution alone is not sufficient, at least not yet. And it will make the network more reliant on advertising revenue and less on subscribers.

TheBlaze TV, which revealed several months ago that it had over 300,000 subscribers paying $99.95 a year or $9.95 a month, said that number was still accurate. The online network noted that it had been spending less on marketing lately and more on programming in preparation for cable and satellite TV. Mr. Balfe wrote in the blog post that he had come to believe that the payment model used by cable and satellite companies would remain in place for some time, despite efforts by outsiders to chip away at it. “It’s smart for us to take advantage of that,” he wrote.

TheBlaze TV will seek full distribution in America’s roughly 100 million cable and satellite households, Mr. Balfe said in an interview. “We are in active discussions with other operators,” he added.

It is an audacious goal given distributors’ reluctance to add channels and given TheBlaze TV’s independent status. But Mr. Beck is a boldface name; he has clout, and several other small TV channels have associated themselves with celebrities for similar reasons, such as Revolt, a cable channel led by the hip-hop star Sean Combs.

Along with Mr. Beck’s show, TheBlaze TV also has a nightly panel conversation about the news, a reality show about survivalists, and a show called “Liberty Treehouse” for children — in total, 35 hours of original programming a week.

On Monday it added another Fox-esque talk show, “Wilkow!” hosted by the radio host Andrew Wilkow. The network was renamed this year to bring it in line with Mr. Beck’s other media ventures, including a Web site called The Blaze. “We have gone from a company of one voice to a company filled with hosts, writers, producers and editors,” Mr. Beck said.

Mr. Beck’s voice is still the loudest; he is still a strident opponent of President Obama. His online show on Monday was emblematic: “America should not be made to suffer four more years because some radical wants to experiment with their own Marxist utopian ideas in the hopes that maybe they’ll be the first one in all of history that can make them work,” Mr. Beck said.

Mr. Beck’s network is another way for Dish to distinguish itself with content that is different from that of its rivals, DirecTV and cable providers. This week, Dish announced a deal to be the first satellite provider of the college sports-related Pac-12 Networks. Separately, the company is in a protracted dispute with AMC Networks; AMC, IFC and WE tv have been off Dish’s channel lineup since July.

Joseph P. Clayton, Dish’s chief executive, said Dish had approached Mr. Beck’s company about possibly carrying a show about a year ago. TheBlaze TV will be the first online network to make the leap from the Internet to traditional TV on Dish. “The model works because it’s the right kind of programming — it’s topical, it’s entertaining and it has strong appeal to a devoted fan base,” Mr. Clayton said.

Dish is paying a small per-subscriber fee to carry TheBlaze.

David Shull, Dish’s senior vice president for programming, declined to comment on the details of the arrangement. “This is all about revenue potential, the strong demand we see for the service and the ability to offer our customers choice,” he said.

The network will be available to customers who have Dish’s 250-channel package; customers with lesser packages will be able to buy TheBlaze TV as a $5 monthly add-on, a step toward à la carte programming for people wanting more control over which channels they pay for.

Dish and other providers already sell channels like HBO and packages of sports channels separately. “You’ll probably hear more announcements to that end,” Mr. Shull said.