Altice USA is expanding its news unit with the acquisition of digital-first news company Cheddar.
Altice is paying $200 million for the Cheddar networks, which include business and finance-focused Cheddar Business network, and general news network Cheddar News. Cheddar programming is geared toward millennial audiences and the networks are available in about 40 million pay TV homes through a variety of video platforms.
Altice began its relationship with Cheddar in 2017 as an early investor in the company and added the digital news channel to its Altice One platform in mid-2018.
Cheddar Founder and CEO Jon Steinberg will joint the cable operator as head of 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,” said Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei in a statement. “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 deal is expected to close in the next two months and Altice said the transaction provides significant opportunity to bolster the Altice USA News unit in terms of content, distribution, and audience reach.
Cheddar networks are available on all virtual MVPDs, including YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu Live, fuboTV, and DirecTV Now, as well as free TV services like Pluto, and the Roku Channel.
Cheddar also significantly expanded its reach by inking carriage agreements with major cable operators including Comcast and Charter, in addition to Altice.
The networks also have a strong social media presence, with Cheddar’s social distribution generating more than 400 million video views each month across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, according to Altice.
In addition, Altice is getting CheddarU, a campus network of 1,600 owned and operated screens on 600 college campuses. Cheddar acquired the campus distribution network (formerly MTV Networks on Campus) from Viacom in 2018.
Altice USA News already partners with Cheddar for relevant programming that runs on its i24News and News 12 Networks. Cheddar’s expertise in digital-first content and distribution will complement and benefit Altice’s existing linear news resources, the company said.
Cheddar’s live advertising offerings will be utilized via dynamic ad insertion into News 12 and i24News inventory.
Altice indicated that Cheddar plans to also create new advertising products that will be deployed across the cable operator’s footprint through the Altice One home hub and a4 advertising platform.
“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.