How AT&T Completes Cheddar’s ‘Journey’ Into Every OTT Skinny Bundle In The Country

Cheddar CEO Jon Steinberg will speak at AdExchanger's upcoming Industry Preview conference on Jan. 23-24.

AT&T began rolling out Cheddar across its video platforms DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse TV last month.

Cheddar has also broadened its reach on other media over the last few months. AT&T announced the Cheddar deal just days after Axios reported that Cheddar would be available on the mixed-reality platform Magic Leap. And in September, the millennial news network said it would be available on GSTV, which pumps content to screens at more than 18,000 gas stations in the United States.

With AT&T’s video platforms under its belt, Cheddar can now be found in virtually all the major skinny bundles in the United States and even in some traditional cable packages. AdExchanger caught up with Cheddar CEO Jon Steinberg to discuss how this new partnership with AT&T would impact the company’s future.

AdExchanger: How does AT&T factor into Cheddar’s long-term strategy? 

JON STEINBERG: We've been on a journey since I started the company three years ago to get into every OTT skinny bundle in the United States, and then this more or less completes that journey. We're on Sling, Hulu, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Philo and DirecTV Now.

This one's kind of interesting because we're available on the set-top boxes as a regular channel and also on DirecTV Now as well. So now we're on every skinny bundle in the United States.

Does this feel like the last piece of Cheddar’s strategic puzzle?

In some ways, it's one of the biggest ones. I mean, the numbers are not really disclosed, but given that we were on the set-top boxes, millions and millions of people have access to us through DirecTV.

This is tangentially related, but will Cheddar be available on Magic Leap AR?

Oh yeah, that was an R&D thing we did as well. It's up and running. And we have a strong relationship with AT&T, and AT&T is also an investor in Magic Leap. So we did that as an R&D project and [Magic Leap] licensed our feed from us.

Why do you think it's important to spread Cheddar across all these outlets? 

I don't think we're that spread out – the AR thing is sort of an experiment. But more or less, our focus has always been on getting into bundles where people are going to consume live news. We think that HBO, Netflix and Amazon will sort of own high-quality drama and comedies, and then what will be left open will be who owns live news and live sports to another extent.

We want to be in all of the bundles where people are going to go to get live news and lifestyle programming, so that's the focus. Our focus has always been Sling, Hulu YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and to just have a laser-like focus on that.

What’s next?  

We always have some projects up our sleeves. But I think in Q1, I want to grow our viewership on these platforms. We want to double our advertising revenue in 2019 and continue to improve the editorial content. We're doing 30 to 50 guests a day, with senators, congressmen and women, and CEOs on every day. We want to continue to do that. I think everything that CNN and CNBC does is up for grabs.

What does the future hold for your relationship with AT&T?

I think that it's just been unbelievably innovative that not only are we available on their OTT platform, we're available on all their set-top boxes. And they were able to deploy [Cheddar] across three major platforms in one fell swoop.

I think AT&T has been a great partner. And the fact that they're also investing in Magic Leap and they invested in us shows they're super interested in how content is going to change in the future.

 

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