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Altice USA buys digital news start-up Cheddar for $200 million

Altice USA buys digital news start-up Cheddar for $200 million
Former BuzzFeed Chief Operating Officer Jon Steinberg, shown in 2013, started Cheddar in 2016. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Altice USA, the fourth-largest U.S. cable company, agreed to pay $200 million for news start-up Cheddar, an online channel that appeals to the younger audiences who are abandoning traditional TV.

Altice, which provides video, internet and phone service to about 4.9 million customers under the names Optimum and Suddenlink, has a news division that includes the News 12 Networks, covering communities around New York City. It also operates an international news channel called i24News.

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Cheddar’s programming appears in gyms and cafeterias on college campuses and reaches 40 million homes that subscribe to pay TV, according to a statement Tuesday. It’s also on free services such as Pluto and the Roku Channel, which are popular with cord cutters — that is, people who have stopped subscribing to traditional cable TV.

Altice was already an investor in Cheddar, which was started in 2016 by former BuzzFeed Chief Operating Officer Jon Steinberg as an online business news channel for millennials. Last year, Cheddar raised $22 million from investors such as Raine Ventures, Liberty Global and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Existing investors included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc., the New York Stock Exchange and Amazon.com Inc.

Cheddar has two networks, one focused on business news and another on general news. Though it began online, Steinberg often found creative ways to distribute the channel more broadly. He cut deals so Cheddar could appear on screens at gas stations or air its programming on digital UHF stations such as channel 42.5 in Kansas City, Mo.

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