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The Chernin Group and AT&T are spending more than $500 million to form a venture that will acquire, invest in and launch online video services.
The partnership with AT&T brings new dimension to veteran Hollywood executive Peter Chernin’s digital media efforts, which includes an investment in digital media studio Fullscreen and a majority stake in the Japanese anime site Crunchyroll. AT&T will add expertise in technology, distribution, network infrastructure and marketing clout.
The Chernin Group will contribute its majority stake in Crunchyroll, as well as its expertise in content and its appreciation for developing business models to support digital ventures. The venture will pursue both ad-supported and subscription services.
The venture formalizes a partnership that began with last year’s failed bid for Hulu, the Internet TV service owned by 21st Century Fox (formerly News Corp.), NBCUniversal and Walt Disney Co. The media owners abruptly pulled Hulu off the market, instead electing to invest $750 million to reinvigorate the service.
The stymied deal sent Chernin — one of Hulu’s chief advocates during his tenure as News Corp.’s chief operating officer — looking for other ways to capitalize on the growing popularity of online video.
More recently the group has engaged in early discussions with Vevo, the online music video service owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Abu Dhabi Media.