It’s been known for some time that Gammon Broadcasting™ (“Bacon’s News Channel”) had a potentially flawed funding model: advertising alone would most likely not pay to keep the show on the road, and unlike Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) there was no chance of the subscription revenue that keeps FNC afloat. Or was there?
Adam Sherwin at iNews has been on the case, revealing “intriguing new details of the financing plan for GB News that will help claw back the channel’s £60m start-up costs. Under the proposals, ‘superfans' will pay a monthly subscription fee giving them bonus content including access to star presenters on the soon-to-launch challenger to the BBC”.
There was more. “The GB News business model envisages turning its audience into a ‘community’, which will pay a monthly fee to access additional content behind a digital paywall … Insiders believe around 135,000 ‘superfans’, sharing [Andrew] Neil’s belief that the BBC and Sky News are ‘out of touch’ could pay a fee of £5 a month for the privilege”.
Sherwin cautions “GB News, which will air on Freeview, Sky and all other main platforms, cannot rely on advertising revenue alone. The live UK audience for rolling news is limited”. So how is the circle to be squared? “GB News will focus on talk radio-style chat led by a provocative line-up of presenters [and this way] The channel believes it can improve on the daily audience of about 110,000 viewers a day which watches Sky News”.
And as Fred Flintstone might have put it, hold it … HOLD IT! Let’s do some of those back of the envelope quick and dirty calculations: all those presenters and pundits, along with the probably hundreds of support staff, the studios and equipment, the publicity budget, all the costs of getting on air - the estimate of £30 million a year begins to sound accurate.
All those “Superfans”, should there be 135,000 of them, and should they all be prepared to stump up £5 a month, that would bring in around £8 million a year. Where’s the other £22 million coming from, let alone the £60 million quoted for start-up costs? Advertising? With campaigners ready to jump on the first mis-step? And an untested product?
Press Gazette point out that this “mimics Fox News which has started offering its most enthusiastic viewers access to extra programming via streaming for $5.99 per month”. But FNC is a long-established brand with the clout of the Murdoch empire behind it. GB News is not. Also, what will the paywalled “extra content” consist of?
Will there be an outtakes reel? Perhaps the overrated hosts and pundits will be seen talking over the day’s “news” and telling one another how wonderful they are? But if there is anything worthwhile in that - and it’s a big if - it will only need a few subscribers to record it and stick it on YouTube - so everyone can see it without paying anything.
But good of GB News to admit that they have money worries. We’ve already got one TalkRADIO. And that’s free to view. The begging bowl no longer looks all that brill, Brillo.
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