In the hierarchy of right-wing digital media companies, The Blaze has long held an august position as one of the first, and one of the longest-surviving, institutions. Founded by Glenn Beck in 2010, the entity represented the first generation of anti-corporate balkanized conservative-meets-alt-right politics-as-lifestyle shops, all built around a single influencer (before that term became painfully ubiquitous). Insta-famous from the success of his eponymous television show on HLN and Fox, Beck became the Bill Simmons of the right—a trailblazing one-man mediaco who served as a forebear to the Bannons and Rogans and Shapiros of the world, and the flourishing ideological empire that Bari Weiss and Nellie Bowles are building in Los Angeles.
In 2018, as the industry shifted and scale became a necessity, Blaze Media merged with Mark Levin’s CRTV, creating a larger platform that sought to highlight conservative-oriented digital content. In the subsequent years, it became a major player in the digital space, pivoting from television to online streaming, podcasting, and conservative news and commentary. And it’s continuing to grow. Late last year, according to two people familiar with the situation, the company raised a new round of financing from investors including the billionaire DeVos family. A spokeswoman for Blaze Media confirmed the investment, telling me that they “added several strategic investors, including some members of the DeVos family, as part of its plan to accelerate growth and capitalize on favorable market conditions for expanding its platforms and content.” I couldn’t get my hands on the round size or valuation, but it presumably provided a nice liquidity event for Beck and Levin.
As with the larger digital economy, conservative digital media has largely been a tale of two business models. Companies like Breitbart, which relied on Facebook algorithms and minuscule-margin programmatic advertising from largely NSFW-style clients, have buckled under macroeconomic pressures. (I recently reported that Rebekkah Mercer, a longtime investor in the business, was looking to offload her stake in Breitbart News Network.) Meanwhile, more robust lifestyle adjacent platforms, like Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing’s Daily Wire, have leveraged the distribution streams of like-minded influencers and leaned into subscription dynamics, all to great commercial success. (As I also recently reported, the Daily Wire posted yearly revenue of roughly $200 million in 2022, valuing the 7-year-old company at somewhere north of $1.5 billion.)
Ever since a new leadership team, under C.E.O. Tyler Cardon, overhauled the site, Blaze Media has been turning a profit, expanding its streaming products and offering a slate of content that includes some of the biggest commentators in the conservative mediasphere: Beck and Levin, of course, but also Dave Rubin, Duck Dynasty’s Phil and Jase Robertson, and, until recently, Steven Crowder. Cardon told Axios in 2020 that the site had 450,000 subscribers paying $102 a year for their content, suggesting a then-annual revenue of roughly $45.9 million. Depending on the company’s current financial status in the subsequent years, this could position Beck, and now the DeVoses, for a 10-figure sale in the not-too-distant future.