HOLLYWOOD, Florida - Anyone over the age of 60 probably hasn't heard of Cheddar TV. Which is entirely the point, according to its Founder & CEO, former BuzzFeed executive Jon Steinberg, whose plans include activation within two more popular TV bundles in the coming months.
"I saw nobody recreating the MSNBC, CNN, CNBC for people under the age of 60," Steinberg recalls of his spring 2016 launch of a live news service focusing on business and technology. "It's a cable network. Instead of living on a cable box it lives on Twitter at three o'clock every day and on Facebook live."
Cheddar also has its own channel on Sling TV "in the base bundle right next to CNN" and is live on Amazon's bundles as well, Steinberg explains in an interview with Beet.TV at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. "We'll have two more of these announced by mid year."
Steinberg's bet is that young people who are hooked on on-demand programming like House of Cards and Transparent "would have a need for what I call ambient, non-appointment viewing to see what's happening. And that's effectively what Cheddar is. It's a live news network."
Last fall, Cheddar went behind a pay wall with a monthly subscription price of $6.99, as The Wall Street Journal reports. It also gets a fee from pay TV bundles "and the ability to monetize the advertising on those bundles as well," Steinberg says.
Another revenue stream is what he calls "Native 3.0," wherein advertisers have a presence on the lower third of the screen. For HP, it's the Keep Reinventing message that's promoted, while Dunkin Donuts prefers an On The Go theme and Fidelity's app is used to reference stocks being covered by the correspondents at Cheddar.
"The direct subscription model is our restaurant regulars. They're people that just want Cheddar and don't want a bundle," Steinberg says. "But ideally any skinny bundle out there, I intend for us to be in those and the consumer can buy us that way."
He counsels against every publisher thinking that live video is where it's at. "It's about looking where there is white space," says Steinberg.
As for so-called fake news, he blames social media networks like Facebook and readers themselves.
"If people just read credible sources, if you went to BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cheddar even, there would be no fake news," Steinberg says. "Fake news is a consequence of the fact that people got disoriented from what they were actually reading and this stuff was able to spread."
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