The US arm of Patrick Drahi’s international cable and telecom group said the acquisition would broaden its portfolio of high-quality news businesses. The deal is expected to close in the next two months subject to regulatory approval.
Altice USA was one of the original investors in Cheddar, which provides a digital-first live business and general news service focused with an extensive college network , and is focused on young professional and millennial audiences.
Last year Cheddar raised US$22 million in funding, with Liberty Global and Antenna Group coming on board as new investors, and the self-styled ‘post-cable network’ said it would use the cash to strengthen its balance sheet and to move into “Europe and beyond”.
The Cheddar networks are currently available in approximately 40 million pay TV homes through service providers, all of the US virtual MVPDS including YouTube TV, Sling, Hulu Live and DirecTV Now, free digital services such as Pluto TV and Roku Channel, and its college network of 1,600 owned and operated screens on 600 campuses.
Cheddar recently expanded distribution through carriage agreements with Comcast and Charter as well as Altice USA. In addition to OTT subscription services, it has a large social distribution across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and other platforms generating over 400 million video views a month.
Altice said Cheddar would complement its local and global news offerings that include News 12 Networks and international and current affairs news network i24News.
The company said that the combination of News 12 and i24News’ expertise in linear content and distribution plus Cheddar’s expertise in digital-first content and distribution would provide a number of benefits, including the ability to reach broader and more diverse audiences on both digital and linear formats, an engaged young professional and millennial audience, more opportunities for collaborative and complementary programming and the ability to expand Cheddar’s advertising offering via dynamic ad insertion into News 12 and i24News inventory, and the development of additional advertising products on the Altice One box and a4 advertising platform.
Cheddar Founder and CEO Jon Steinberg will join Altice USA to lead Altice News, including Cheddar, News 12 and i24News.
“Cheddar has demonstrated an innovative approach to live news while building an engaged audience, solid followership and a strong brand. As one of Cheddar’s early investors, we have enjoyed our partnership with Jon and admire the entrepreneurial spirit, energy and smart disruptive mentality that he brings to the news business. The Cheddar culture and mindset are the perfect fit for Altice USA, and we’re excited to welcome Jon and the Cheddar team to the Altice family. We look forward to seeing our growing news team continue to deliver the best content for our viewers and more opportunities for our advertisers,” said Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei.
“Our goal is to make Altice News a leader in local, business, national, and international news everywhere as we look to build a live news offering for customers in the traditional pay TV ecosystem, as well as those looking to a la carte alternative SVOD services, vMVPDs, and free systems for their non-news entertainment,” said Steinberg. “The Altice team and Altice Way are as entrepreneurial as it gets with amazing markets, world-class local and international news, an amazing broadband network, and a soon to launch mobile offering. I can’t wait for Cheddar to begin working with Altice’s team.”
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