CNN reported that Glenn Beck’s efforts to get onto more MSO lineups briefly led him to seek out help from the news network earlier this summer: “But the idea fizzled fast and talks aren’t expected to resume, according to several people with direct knowledge of the exchange. ‘The talks were never serious,’ one of the people said.”
Still, Beck’s interest — first reported 8/22 by the Wall Street Journal — is a sign that he’s seeking partnerships to increase distribution of his cable channel, The Blaze.
The Blaze has had a hard time gaining distribution on cable and satellite systems—it’s more difficult when the networks are not backed by major media companies.
Time Warner, owner of CNN, is one of those major media companies. It also owns HBO, TNT, TBS, and other channels, so it has significant leverage in negotiations with distributors like Comcast and DirecTV.
That’s one of the reasons why Beck’s representatives from his media company, Mercury Radio Arts, reached out. One of the sources compared the proposal to the JV between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications for the channel that became OWN. Discovery provided the shelf space on cable systems and Winfrey provided the bulk of the programming for that channel.
Another source said Beck’s company proposed that it buy a block of time on HLN, CNN’s sister network. That would have been a homecoming for Beck, who hosted a nightly show on HLN from 2006 to 2008.
The contact from Mercury Radio Arts came after media reports about talks between Time Warner and Vice Media. In one potential deal, Time Warner was planning on “injecting” HLN into Vice in return for about half of the enlarged company. A deal could value Vice at more than $2 billion. Rupert Murdoch is already an admirer of Vice Media, and made an investment to acquire a 5% stake in the company last August for the 21st Century Fox portion of the then-newly split News Corporation media empire. 21st Century Fox kicked in $70 million into Vice Media in a deal valuing the company at $1.4 billion. The company has made since it clear it wants to keep that investment.
The Blaze Network originated on the Internet and was picked up by Dish in 2012. Since then, The Blaze has struck distribution deals with about 70 smaller TV providers, but Dish and Cablevision are the largest so far.