You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Crackle Owner Sets Leadership Team for Joint Venture With Sony Pictures Television

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, the majority owner of the Crackle Plus free streaming-video joint venture with Sony Pictures Television, announced Philippe Guelton, a digital-media and publishing veteran, as president of the JV.

Guelton, who joined CSS Entertainment in January 2019, also will remain as executive VP of CSS Entertainment and president of VOD networks. The company also is bringing three former Sony Pictures Television execs who worked on Sony Crackle — Darren Olive, Jason Schaeffer and Tony Simon — to the new venture.

CSS Entertainment, a subsidiary of the company that owns the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book franchise, last month assumed control of Crackle as majority owner under its joint venture with Sony. The deal, first reported by Variety, closed May 14. Under the terms of the deal, CSS Entertainment issued Sony the right to purchase 4 million shares of Class A common stock of CSS Entertainment at various prices.

Sony Pictures Television and CSS Entertainment are calling the new venture “Crackle Plus.” They currently don’t own the rights to crackleplus.com but CSS Entertainment says that’s not an issue because that won’t be the consumer-facing brand.

The partners are hoping to build Crackle Plus into a major ad-supported VOD player. The JV encompasses the Crackle free, ad-supported VOD service and will consolidate operations with CSS Entertainment’s other ad-supported platforms including Popcornflix, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, Espanolflix and Truli, as well as subscription VOD platform Pivotshare.

CSS Entertainment expects Crackle to more than double its overall revenue. In Q1 2019, Crackle would have represented more than 80% of CSS Entertainment’s revenue. According to CSS Entertainment’s pro-forma estimates, Crackle had revenue of $11 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $3.4 million for the period.

With the new appointment, Guelton will continue to report to Elana Sofko, COO of CSS Entertainment. Guelton will lead the Crackle Plus team, overseeing the merger of assets from CSS Entertainment and SPT into the new joint venture.

Prior to CSS Entertainment, Guelton was CEO of SheKnows Media, a female-focused digital-media company with over 70 million monthly unique users. (Penske Media Corp., publisher of Variety, acquired SheKnows last year.) Before that Guelton was president of Thrillist Media Group, executive VP and COO at HFM US and CEO of Hachette Fujingaho in Japan.

The three other Crackle Plus senior execs reporting to Guelton are: Darren Olive, EVP advertising sales, Jason Schaeffer, SVP of business development, marketing and business intelligence; and Tony Simon, SVP of content and operations.

Olive was formerly VP of national video sales for Sony Crackle, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and anime service Funimation. Prior to that, he was national VP of digital and video advertising sales for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and served in various sales leadership roles at Discovery, EA and Universal Music Group.

Schaeffer had served as VP of global revenue operations for Sony Crackle for the past six years. Prior to SPT, he worked at Disney Interactive and Dow Jones in business-development roles after starting his career at Merrill Lynch in its M&A department.

Simon had joined SPT in 2013 and was most recently VP of global network and content operations for Sony Crackle. He previously spent more than 15 years at Disney/ABC Networks, managing content operations for five linear networks and overseeing distribution for 26 VOD and digital partners.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Disney-Plus-Logo

    Disney Plus Customer Service Still Experiencing 'High Volume' of Help Inquiries

    Disney Plus got off to a rocky start with widespread technical problems for the streaming service on launch day — and a week later, the company says it’s still seeing a high level of incoming calls from users who are having problems. Disney announced one day after the launch that more than 10 million people [...]

  • The Game Awards

    The Game Awards 2019 Nominees: 'Death Stranding,' 'Control' Lead the Field (Full List)

    The Game Awards 2019 unveiled nominations for this year’s event, led by Hideo Kojima’s epic “Death Stranding” with nine nods and Remedy/505 Games’ “Control” with eight nominations. This year’s Game of the Year nominees, in addition to “Control” and “Death Stranding,” are “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Resident Evil 2,” “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” and “The [...]

  • Roger Lynch Code Media

    Conde Nast CEO Roger Lynch: 'The Jury Is Out' on Apple News Plus

    Conde Nast CEO Roger Lynch told the audience of Recode’s Code Media conference that he hadn’t made up his mind yet about Apple’s news subscription service. “I think the jury is out,” Lynch said, adding that he had inherited Conde Nast’s deal with Apple from his predecessor. “I hope Apple News Plus is wildly successful,” [...]

  • Diego Winburn - Telemundo Snapchat

    Telemundo Launches First Snapchat Show, 'Diego Street Magic'

    NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, looking to tap into Snapchat’s youth-skewing user base, launched its first exclusive show on Snapchat. Telemundo’s 10-episode “Diego Street Magic” features Mexican-American magician Diego Winburn performing magic tricks and illusions on the streets of New York City. After premiering Nov. 19, new episodes will be available Tuesdays and Thursdays through mid-December on [...]

  • Disney Plus user interface home screen

    Disney Plus Is Not Hampering Netflix Yet, Analysts Say -- But It's Only Been a Week

    One week after the launch of Disney Plus, Wall Street analysts are scouring tea leaves for signs of how the Mouse House’s streaming service is faring — and whether it’s taken a bite out of Netflix. Disney Plus’ launch in the first week had “little to no impact” on Netflix usage trends, which is “reassuring [...]

  • Ross Levinsohn

    Maven Media Bosses Stumble Explaining Their Plans for Sports Illustrated

    Ross Levinsohn’s reintroduction into the spotlight of the media world was off to a rocky start. Appearing at Recode’s Code Media conference Monday afternoon alongside his business partner James Heckman, Levinsohn was given a chance to address the elephant in the room right out of the gate, with journalist Peter Kafka bringing up allegations of [...]

  • Commercials Ads Streaming Illustration Placeholder

    Banner Ads Bother. Pop-Ups Annoy. Streaming Wars Aim to Revive Them

    TV’s newest commercials are starting to look an awful lot like the web’s oldest. Any user of Amazon’s Fire set-top device might have recently stumbled upon an interactive on-screen graphic from Geico, the insurance company known for its heavy use of TV ads. In just 15 minutes, the company likes to claim, it can save [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content