×

Listen: Cheddar Founder Jon Steinberg on Altice Sale, Building News Brands

Jon Steinberg, founder and CEO of Cheddar and president of Altice News, likens the process of developing digital media companies to “the drug discovery business.”

Steinberg tells Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast that developing Cheddar as a startup digital TV service offering business and entertainment news aimed at a millennial audience was similar to how pharmaceutical entrepreneurs develop new drugs. It starts in a lab setting but ultimately it takes a sale to Big Pharma to get a promising treatment off the ground.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

Cheddar went through a similar process since its founding in 2016. In April, cable operator Altice USA brought the company for $200 million, after having invested in the company early on. There’s a natural evolutionary cycle to media startups that demand heavy-duty resources and distribution infrastructure to drive growth.

“Altice could never have built Cheddar inside Altice and I could never have built Altice from Cheddar,” says Steinberg, who was named president of Altice News following the transaction.

Steinberg also details Altice’s strategy of deploying three news brands — hyper-local News 12 serving Altice’s stronghold of Long Island and environs, Cheddar and the growing i24 News service with an emphasis on news from the Middle East.

Steinberg opines that his experience with Cheddar — the focus on gaining TV distribution rather than internet traffic — has taught him a contrarian lesson about the media business. “Distribution is more important than content,” he says. No matter how good your content is, if you can’t get it out there no one is gong to see it or read it.”

Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

More TV

  • duncanville

    'Duncanville' Starring Amy Poehler: TV Review

    Lovable dirtbag families have been the core of Fox’s Sunday “Animation Domination” lineup for years, a truth further underlined by the fact that its newest entry “Duncanville” comes from longtime “Simpsons” producers Mike and Julie Thacker Scully. Along with co-creator Amy Poehler, they’ve now made a show about a family more tied to the present [...]

  • Chaka Khan arrives at the Vanity

    Chaka Khan Joins Fergie in Pantheon of Memorable NBA National Anthem Performances

    It takes a lot to make a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the NBA All-Star Game trend higher on social media than the game itself, but Chaka Khan has managed what Fergie was able to two years ago, with a unique rendering of the National Anthem that threatened to render anything that followed [...]

  • Jason Davis

    Jason Davis, Voice Actor on Disney Channel's 'Recess,' Dies at 35

    Jason Davis, a voice actor on the Disney Channel show “Recess,” died in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was 35. “I am so heartbroken to share the saddest news of my life that my son Jason Davis passed away this morning in Los Angeles. Jason had a true heart of gold with such a zest [...]

  • Caroline Flack

    'Love Island’ Pulled For Second Night After Former Host Caroline Flack’s Death

    For a second consecutive night, ‘Love Island’ will not air on U.K. broadcaster ITV2 following the death of former host Caroline Flack, Variety has confirmed. An ITV spokesman said: “Many people at ITV knew Caroline well and held her in great affection. All of us are absolutely devastated at this tragic news.” “After careful consultation between [...]

  • Caroline Flack

    Caroline Flack's Death Prompts U.K. Petition Demanding Media Inquiry

    A petition calling on the U.K. government to launch an inquiry into British media coverage of public figures has garnered close to 206,000 signatures. The death of former “Love Island” host Caroline Flack, one of the country’s most popular TV personalities, spurred the initiative, which asks government to investigate the press following “the maltreatment of [...]

  • Caroline Flack

    'Love Island' Host's Shock Death Revives Concerns Around Mental Health, Media Scrutiny

    The death of popular “Love Island” host Caroline Flack has sent shockwaves across the U.K. and again raised long-running concerns about broadcaster ITV’s support of cast members on the hit reality competition as well as the country’s intense media scrutiny of public figures. Flack, one of the U.K.’s most recognizable reality hosts, was found dead [...]

  • Caroline Flack'ITV Palooza!', Royal Festival Hall,

    Caroline Flack, Former 'Love Island' Host, Dies at 40

    Caroline Flack, the former host of the U.K. reality competition, “Love Island,” has died. She was 40. “Everybody at ‘Love Island’ and ITV is shocked and saddened by this desperately sad news. Caroline was a much loved member of the ‘Love Island’ team and our sincere thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content