Bill O'Reilly: 'I am starting my own operation'
Fox News may find its spurned superstar grabbing audience away from the once dominant news operation it is attempting to return to its former glory. Bill O'Reilly has told an audience at his "Spin Stops Here" tour that he already is putting together a team of producers. Verne Gay of Newsday writes about the big reveal he offered to a group of fans on his home turf:
Making the first stop at his "The Spin Stops Here" tour, O'Reilly addressed that future, and – as usual in these shows – made some news during the question-and-answer period that wraps them. Asked whether he planned to start his own network, he said "there could be a new network" that will compete directly with Fox News. "A bunch of people are looking to compete with Fox because there's a perception" of decline, he said.
But I am starting my own operation. We are going to do that," adding that his website, billoreilly.com, will beta test a half-hour newscast "where we will go into a studio and here it will look like 'The Factor.' . . . It's basically an experiment to see how many people are going to want this service. That's coming and will be here before September in a robust form. But I suspect there will be another network maybe merging with us. There will be a network that rises up because the numbers for Fox are going down."
Many AT readers know that Glenn Beck's TheBlaze and Mark Levin's Conservative TV already have created subscription television programming delivered via the internet. In addition, One America News Network is providing 24-hour news coverage via subscription. Furthermore, Sinclair Broadcasting, which is in the process of acquiring more television stations, will have the capability of launching a national cable news operation utilizing the WGN Superstation cable distribution system it is adding to its portfolio of businesses.
Almost certainly, O'Reilly is staking out a position to be able to have an ownership stake in whatever Fox rival operation emerges from the shakeout of the full-throated competition developing. The conservative viewing public is perceived as up for grabs in the wake of the reshaping of FNC being carried out by the Murdoch brothers, creating a fabulous opportunity.
Mediaite considers the financing possibilities for O'Reilly's new operation:
BillOReilly.com has long been a profitable endeavor for the former Fox News host, as he spent a significant amount of time promoting the premium services over the past dozen or so years whole on FNC. Its original video offering appears to almost only be offered to those who subscribe to its premium service, and the video platform technology appears to be outdated.
At first blush, this appears to be a very smart move for O'Reilly, which tentatively follows the footsteps of his fellow "bold and fresh" former cohort Glenn Beck, who after leaving Fox News launched his own digital network The Blaze. The difference, however, is that Beck's daily radio program is still a cash cow that can underwrite a very expensive video production and delivery platform, while O'Reilly's radio show ended a number of years ago.
But having cash on hand is almost certainly not a problem for O'Reilly. Apart from the estimated $15 Million dollar payout he walked away from in April, he is also a best-selling author at least a dozen times over. He's got resources, and perhaps more importantly, his still loyal audience presents an optimal investment opportunity for the advertising community and institutional investors.
Perhaps more importantly, building up a short form and original video series on BillOreilly.com does not preclude a future deal with a broadcast partner in the not-so-distant future. O'Reilly appears to understand that if his future online program has a previously established and well-developed audience, then any future negotiations will put him in an even more enviable position.
The genius of the late Roger Ailes created a cash cow for News Corporation that became its single biggest source of profits. A massive investment in buying access to cable systems was the prerequisite for this outcome. But cable is beginning the long slide down in viewership that previously weakened broadcast television, as more and more viewers "cut the cord" and get their television from the internet, not cable television "packages" that force them to pay for channels they don't want.
Thus, a fully internet-driven news channel operation may become increasingly viable – particularly if it boasts a charismatic figure with a large and loyal audience. For Bill O'Reilly, the current goal would be to establish viability and leverage that into a substantial share of what emerges from the shakeout.