The cable company Altice USA is said to be weighing a potential sale of Cheddar News, the network once billed as “CNBC for millennials,” less than five years after buying the company.
Altice USA has hired Goldman Sachs to help explore strategic alternatives for Cheddar News, according to three people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. They cautioned that Altice was still weighing its options and could decide against a sale. Representatives for Altice USA and Goldman declined to comment.
A sale would be a retreat from Altice USA’s big bet on the streaming news company. Altice, which is controlled by the French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, paid $200 million for Cheddar in 2019. The deal was seen as a way to elevate the company’s news division, which also includes the News 12 networks. Cheddar had pitched itself as the future of financial news, featuring interviews with chief executives, newsmakers and journalists from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Cheddar does not operate like a traditional cable business. Jon Steinberg, the network’s founder and a former BuzzFeed president, struck deals to distribute it across a wide range of platforms. Among them: Gas Station TV (which, yes, plays at the pump) and MTV’s college campus network (which Cheddar bought in 2018).
Some of those pacts are not as profitable as cable distribution deals, however. Rather than having cable-TV providers like Comcast pay for each of Cheddar’s viewers, an industry practice known as carriage fees, the channel relies mostly on advertising revenue. That’s a tough business model for media companies competing against tech giants like Meta and TikTok for a share of the digital ad market. (Indeed, Cheddar has recently laid off employees.)
Shares of Altice USA are down about 70 percent over the past year. The company, which provides broadband service across 22 states, reported declines in profit and revenue in the first quarter; news and advertising revenue alone fell 14 percent. Altice is set to report second-quarter earnings next week.