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Cheddar Buys ‘Rate My Professors’ Website From Viacom

Millennial-targeted news startup Cheddar is getting into the prof-assessment biz with the acquisition of Rate My Professors from Viacom.

The RateMyProfessors.com website and its app are used by 6 million college students monthly, who write an average of 125,000 new professor and course ratings per month. Currently, it hosts over 20 million ratings across 1.8 million professors, spanning nearly every college and university in the U.S.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Viacom bought RateMyProfessors.com in 2007, where it had been housed in the conglomerate’s MTVU college network group.

Cheddar’s pickup of Rate My Professors comes after its May 2018 acquisition of Viacom’s MTV Networks on Campus, the distribution platform for MTVU. Cheddar used that to launch CheddarU, a collegiate-focused news network that runs on 1,600 TV screens on 600 U.S. campuses.

With the MTVU deal, Carlo DiMarco — who ran MTVU and Rate My Professors as SVP of digital networks for Viacom Music and Entertainment Group — joined Cheddar. Another five former MTVU employees came over to the startup this summer, according to Jon Steinberg, founder and CEO of Cheddar, “so we mostly had the team already.”

Rate My Professors adds “user-generated content and deep engagement to our company,” Steinberg said. “Rate My Professors, coupled with our [over-the-top] networks and CheddarU network, makes us the defining media company for a new generation that has no relationship with legacy cable news media.”

Cheddar plans to redesign RateMyProfessors.com and enhance the site’s features for searching and evaluating profs. Next year, the company intends to roll out a premium tool set for educators to manage their profiles on the site, similar to what company-ratings site Glassdoor offers to employers.

In addition, Cheddar has signed a deal with Taboola as a strategic in-feed discovery partner for Cheddar’s operation of Rate My Professors.

Cheddar’s programming is available on Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Snapchat, FuboTV, Philo, Amazon, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook and smart TVs in the U.S. It currently broadcasts two live networks: the flagship Cheddar business-news network and Cheddar Big News, a general news network.

The New York-based company was founded in early 2016 by Steinberg, formerly president/COO of BuzzFeed. Investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Raine Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Liberty Global, Comcast Ventures, AT&T, Amazon, and the New York Stock Exchange.

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