Chernin Group, AT&T Teaming Up Again, With $500M In Play For VOD

Jump in. There’s room for everybody in the increasingly fluid pool of OTT entrepreneurs, and now you can add former News Corp. main man Peter Chernin, who is teaming with AT&T to “acquire, invest and launch over-the-top video services” and plunking down $500 million to get started. No Kickstarter for him.

Chernin/AT&Tt enter the same pool with Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and more from a VOD content-producing standpoint, and Amazon and Microsoft and Apple and Google and more that have devices and/or content. The OTT world needs a scorecard.

Chernin and AT&T, you certainly remember, were kicking the tires at Hulu a little less than a year ago, when Hulu’s parents were about to throw the kid out with the bathwater. Then ABC and Fox decided to hang on to Hulu and actually invest in it, and the rest is history pretty much still unwritten. But Chernin, who should know Hulu well, was a contender, along with his broadband/ mobile bud AT&T. Those are good partners to have because it has 100 million wireless subscribers and 16 million U-Verse digital subs.

“Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks,” Chernin said in a canned comment. “AT&T's massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us."

You can’t read a thing from great big broad comments like that, but to me, it’s interesting that Chernin or his handlers first mention mobile, with the big move of video viewing from laptops and PCs to viewership on iPhones and tablets. It’s possible Chernin/AT&T might angle for content specifically geared to those devices, once somebody figures out what that is.

You’d think mobile viewers would be going for short, on-the-run features like NowThis News and the new 120 Sports that has Time, Inc. (as in ESPN), as well as some major sports leagues on board. But it’s a whole new world of content possibilities out there, and Chernin has never been accused of being somebody who’s hopped on a bandwagon, Usually, he likes to drive.

The Chernin Group has invested in media/entertainment/tech businesses since 2010, all over the world, especially Hong Kong-based CA Media. Best known of Chernin Group’s investments are its holdings is the anime VOD service Crunchyroll and other investments in Flipboard, Scopely, Fullscreen and Pandora.

As for this latest venture, stay tuned.

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