Cheddar was supposed to be the millennials’ answer to boring old cable television. Now, it’s joining a cable company. Altice, the cable company once known as Cablevision, has purchased Cheddar for a whopping $200 million. The company’s founder and CEO, Jon Steinberg, is being promoted as part of this deal, and will oversee two other Altice-owned news networks, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In the world of digital media startups, Cheddar has always been an interesting case. It’s raised a sizable amount of money–totaling $54 million, according to Crunchbase. Meanwhile, it’s operated under the premise that there’s an untapped large audience of moneymaking millennial professionals who want to watch TV using the internet. It promised to be the CNBC for the hip youth.
This acquisition does mean that Cheddar may be onto something, though it’s interesting (to say the least) that it got scooped up by a legacy provider. Some have said that Cheddar’s acquisition proves that the VC-funded model of media could actually work. That’s not completely true just yet. While the founders and investors are certainly happy they made a nice exit, it’s anyone’s guess how well Cheddar will be able to scale now that it’s tethered to a cable behemoth.
The biggest problem facing media isn’t about how executives can continue to make inordinate salaries and returns, it’s about figuring out how to make a sustainable model for publishing businesses of all sizes. Cheddar’s acquisition shows that the big guys are fearful for their own future, thus their scooping up the hot new talent–but it remains to be seen what the giants will do.
For now, we’ll wait to see what kind of change this brings–be it to Cheddar or to Altice’s overall program. One question still looms: Will Altice change Cheddar’s logo to an actual block of cheddar cheese, or will it remain Swiss?