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Sony Pictures Television turns to Chicken Soup for the Soul for Crackle deal

FILE - This July 5, 2013, file photo, shows some of the titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul seri
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment has partnered with Sony Pictures Television to launch Crackle Plus.
(Dusty Compton / Associated Press)

Sony Pictures Television is turning to Chicken Soup for the Soul to lift the spirits of its struggling streaming service Crackle.

Culver City-based Sony on Thursday said it has secured a deal with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. to form a joint venture called Crackle Plus.

Chicken Soup for the Soul will be the majority owner of Crackle Plus, which will house the existing service, as well as other Chicken Soup-owned streamers such as Popcornflix and faith-based channel Truli. The services have a combined monthly viewership of about 10 million people, the companies said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Chief Digital Officer Eric Berger, who oversaw Crackle for Sony Pictures Television, is expected to leave the company.

No cash changed hands in the deal. Sony Pictures will receive 4 million five-year warrants to purchase Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment stock.

Cos Cob, Conn.-based Chicken Soup for the Soul is best known as the publisher of uplifting story and essay collections, which began in 1993. The company since has expanded into other businesses including dog food, podcasts and entertainment.

Sony began shopping Crackle in July after years of lagging behind rivals in the growing streaming market. The company hired investment bank Moelis & Co. to help it explore a selling a stake in the service, which is available for free and makes money from advertising.

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Crackle has been part of Sony since 2006 and was once considered an important part of the studio’s digital video strategy. Sony Pictures, owned by Tokyo-based electronics giant Sony Corp., bought Crackle for $65 million when it was a video-sharing site called Grouper and changed its name to Crackle in 2007.

However, the service was overshadowed by video giants such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, which invested billions of dollars in original content. On its own, Crackle was attracting 5 million monthly unique visits.

Crackle was once the home of Jerry Seinfeld’s popular web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” but the show moved to Netflix in 2017. Crackle’s other original series efforts included the stop-motion animation comedy “SuperMansion.”

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder


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