This is a weird, but intriguing announcement. AT&T and The Chernin Group say today that they formed a venture “to acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services.” (Jargon alert: OTT is industry-speak for an online service that can take the place of traditional pay TV.) The two have committed more than $500M, but offer no details about how much each has put up, ownership stakes, etc. — although Chernin’s kicking in his majority stake in subscription VOD service Crunchyroll. They plan to invest in ad and subscription VOD channels as well as streaming services. “A critical part of The Chernin Group’s strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers,” Chernin says. He adds that 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.” Chernin was a major supporter of Hulu back when he was Rupert Murdoch’s No. 2 at News Corp. AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey says that the combo “creates the opportunity for us to develop a compelling offering in the OTT space.” AT&T will disclose its Q1 earnings, and talk with analysts, after the market closes today.
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