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Becoming Cheddar, Inc.

Becoming Cheddar
Here's a story of a publisher who relied on symbiotic partnerships and OTT networks to bag tens of millions in revenue.

Why Cheddar Inc.?

Cheddar Inc. is just a three-year-old startup established in 2016. We could have chosen any other publishing behemoth for our next becoming story. But here’s why we wanted to cover Cheddar. 

– Cheddar Inc is a quasi-CNBC channel and it means the publisher had to compete with the well-known business news network right from the start. Doesn’t it sound difficult and interesting at the same time? 

– Surprisingly, the publishers relied primarily on licensing fees. That being said, it embarked programmatic advertising and sponsored events/ads after a year. The revenue is diversified as opposed to depending on any single source.

– Cheddar’s annual revenue hit $27M in a short span of 2.5 years (Src). That’s a growth we all would like to replicate. Without any further ado, let’s dive in.

How it all started?

Let’s start with Cheddar’s market approach.

A decade ago, if you want to know the days’ business news, you had to get a newspaper or had to check your TV.

Apparently, it’s a way to stay updated with daily news in the 2000s. But, the advent of OTT networks and channels like Netflix and Prime TV made the audience cut the cable-cords. Now, the young audience prefers things they can control – what time and where they want to watch, and how much they want to pay for a particular show.

Cheddar was well aware of the rapid media changes and found that such streaming services could be considered as an opportunity to reinvent live news for the audience. There were many media person who disliked the idea and said that the young audience doesn’t bother for live news about technology or business.

But the publisher disagreed and launched Cheddar that spoke to the people who care about what’s going on in the finance world. Initially, the publisher started from shooting an hour-long live video on phone in a day. After a few months, it went from streaming one hour a day to two hours and then three hours and it kept on expanding news coverage. It ran with just 4 employees and generated a revenue of $2.5M (Src). Thanks to founder’s successful track-record, Cheddar raised $3M in the same year (Src). 

Cheddar.com traffic and revenue - 2016

Where are they today?

It’s been three years since the launch of Cheddar and the cable-free video channel has already brought massive success for the publisher. The first video for an hour became live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2016. Now, the publisher broadcasts 16 hours a day covering a wide range of news from its own office “ChedSet 2.0”.

Over the three years, Cheddar has changed how finance and business news are created and consumed. Through live streaming news on OTT networks, Cheddar is reaching millions of readers across the globe. Cheddar has more than 200 employees and working with 20+ media partners including Hulu Live and Pluto (Src). 

Cheddar.com traffic and revenue - 2018

In addition, Cheddar reaches 6.5 million viewers/mo through its own properties, social media platforms, and OTT networks (Src). At present, the publisher has 3.9M+ Facebook followers, 268k+ YouTube subscribers, 594k+ Instagram Followers, and 224k+ Twitter followers.

Becoming Cheddar Inc.

From Zero to CNBC of the Internet

2016

Launch

On January 2016, Jon Steinberg, Ex-president of BuzzFeed and Ex-CEO of Daily Mail, launched Cheddar Inc. Though Steinberg launched it, the term “Cheddar” was coined by Bryan Goldberg, Founder of Bustle.

“Cheddar is a post-cable TV network which uses modern cloud-based infrastructure to shoot, live stream, and stream the network.”

Jon Steinberg (Src)

During its initial days, the video content for the channel was sent by the editors of Bustle, an American Women’s magazine. Every day, Bustle editors sent at least 10 articles to Steinberg who was the anchor of Cheddar at that time, shortlisted 3 to 4 articles to focus on for the day.

The next question came in the mind of Steinberg was, where to distribute the content and how to reach an audience?

Cheddar.com traffic sources

At first, the publisher wanted to go for native advertising. But it couldn’t make it possible as Cheddar wasn’t well established and had no source of getting revenue at that time. Luckily, this was the time when Facebook Live came into light.

Steinberg knew Facebook has billions of users and thought it would be best for the channel to promote its video-content on Facebook since it would be a little bit cheaper than other modes of bringing traffic to the site.

So, Steinberg reached Facebook and streamed its first live-video of one hour on Cheddar.com and then, Facebook. 

Funding

The startup received its first round of funding ($3M) from Lightspeed and Snapchat’s Jeremy Liew (Src). The amount received from this investment helped Cheddar to expand its reach, and make a bet on the channel.

The publisher added a separate section with a paywall that made users buy a subscription plan of $6.99/month to watch full video-content program and dive deep. Although small clips were free for the visitors on Facebook, full-length content was available only for its paid subscribers.

A few months later, Lightspeed invested $10M for the second time in Cheddar along with Comcast Ventures and Ribbit Capital. It was Series B funding for Cheddar and helped the anchors of the news channel to introduce new programs.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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