×

Cheddar Acquired by Cable Operator Altice USA for $200 Million

Altice USA announced a deal to buy millennial-news streaming startup Cheddar for $200 million.

It’s a successful exit for three-year-old Cheddar and its founder and CEO, Jon Steinberg: Altice USA was among the investors in Cheddar, which had raised a total of $54 million in funding. Other investors included Amazon, AT&T, Comcast Ventures, Raine Ventures, Liberty Global, Goldman Sachs, the New York Stock Exchange, Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Cheddar will become part of Altice USA News, the New York-area cable operator’s local news division whose properties include the News 12 Networks (available on to Optimum cable customers) and international and current affairs news network i24News.

Steinberg, a former BuzzFeed exec who founded the company in 2016, will join Altice USA to lead the news division.

“Cheddar has demonstrated an innovative approach to live news while building an engaged audience, solid followership and a strong brand,” Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said in announcing the deal. “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.”

Cheddar operates two networks — the recently rebranded Cheddar Business, positioned as a CNBC-style financial and business network for millennials, and Cheddar News, which it previously called Cheddar Big News. Cheddar’s linear programming is available to 40 million pay-TV households via pacts with Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV, Philo, and PlayStation Vue, as well as on free platforms including Roku devices and Viacom’s Pluto TV. The company says it also generates over 400 million views views monthly on social media.

Altice USA said it expects the Cheddar deal to close in the next two months, contingent on regulatory approvals.

In a statement, Steinberg said, “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 [subscription video-on-demand] services, [virtual internet pay-TV providers], and free systems for their non-news entertainment.”

Cheddar itself spent around $10 million on acquisitions. Last year, in two separate deals with Viacom, it bought RateMyProfessors.com (which has over 5 million users) and MTV Networks on Campus, which Cheddar used to launch CheddarU, a collegiate-focused news network that runs on 1,600 TV screens across 600 U.S. campuses.

In an interview with Variety in January, Steinberg said, “I don’t think our exit is going to be someone writing a giant check for us” — but said it would make sense for Cheddar to become part of a local TV station group or to combine with the news operations of a larger media company.

In 2018, Cheddar generated $27 million in revenue (up from $11 million from 2017), mostly from advertising and branded content, according to Steinberg, who forecast sales to nearly double this year. The startup wasn’t yet profitable but was on track to turn into the black by the end of 2019, Steinberg said in January. Cheddar had about 180 employees at the start of this year.

Cheddar is already an existing Altice USA News programming partner. The operator’s News 12 airs the daily Cheddar Tech Report, and i24News runs top stories from Cheddar as part of its global news coverage.

Altice USA was formed after French telecommunications company Altice bought Cablevision Systems in a $17.7 billion deal in 2016 and merged it with the previously acquired Suddenlink Communications. Altice USA went public two years ago.

Pictured above: Cheddar founder-CEO Jon Steinberg (l.), Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei

More Digital

  • Logan Paul Ninja Spree

    How Logan Paul and Ninja Helped 'Spree' Cast Capture Influencer Culture Gone Wild

    When it came to depicting the gonzo nature of influencer culture, “Spree” stars Joe Keery and Sasheer Zamata and director Eugene Kotlyarenko did a deep dive into the haves and have-nots of the internet. “Spree,” which premiered Friday at Sundance Film Festival, follows a rideshare driver named Kurt Kunkle (Keery) who will stop at nothing [...]

  • Activision-Blizzard-Overwatch-League-Grand-Finals-2018

    YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues

    YouTube landed a multiyear deal as the exclusive live-streaming partner for Activision Blizzard’s e-sports events worldwide, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports. The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for [...]

  • Grammy Moments Brandi Carlile John Legend

    What's a Grammy Moment Worth? Brandi Carlile, John Legend, Label Execs Weigh In

    In simpler times, an artist could see album sales spike to over 500,000 in the days after a Grammy Awards broadcast appearance. That was Santana’s experience in 2000. Following a performance on the show and eight Grammy wins, “Supernatural” flew off the shelves — a gold certification from one key look. Today, that seems downright [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Sets Up Italian Office in Rome (EXCLUSIVE)

    After opening its doors in Paris last week, Netflix is setting up an office in Rome, Variety can reveal. The streaming giant has confirmed that it will move its Italian team, which is now based in Amsterdam, to new offices in the Italian capital, where they are currently seeking a space. The process will take [...]

  • Jill Dickerson - Snap

    Snap Taps OWN's Jill Dickerson to Lead Unscripted Programming

    Jill Dickerson has left OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network after more than a decade to join Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, as a senior member of the Snap Originals team. A seasoned reality TV exec, Dickerson will help lead the development of Snap’s docu-series and unscripted programming and is based at the company’s Santa [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content