DIS 2018: How Cheddar Inc. innovates to create a new type of media for a new generation

By Jessica Patterson

Cheddar, which launched two years ago in the United States as a live and on-demand news channel, is a new type of media for a new generation, filling a gap in the market for business news tailored for millennials. Melissa Rosenthal, Cheddar Inc.’s EVP, spoke at the Digital Innovators' Summit 2018 in Berlin today, where she provided insight into the thinking behind Cheddar and its journalism and business model.

Distribution is changing at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen possible, Rosenthal explained. “It’s led us to make a change in how we distribute content, as audiences are consuming content differently. How do you program for that, how do you create for that?”

This has led to the creation of Cheddar, which is programming for a younger generation, what they want and where they want to be, she said.

“Millennials are not watching television,” Rosenthal explained. “In adults aged 18-24, there was a 48 per cent decline in cable use. This is only going to get worse. What are the cable companies doing? They’re raising rates in order to compete.”

Rosenthal explained that Cheddar believes in two things: 1) the future will be on-demand and 2) short form social content, on Twitter, Facebook and on LinkedIn.

“No one is thinking about the younger generation who are thinking about financial decisions,” she said. “We live in the future, so why not program for the future.”

She said linear television will get rebooted, in a meaningful way, in a way that Millennials want to watch it.

The network’s goals are to be visually stimulating, to be a window on the modern world for a young audience.  Cheddar Inc. covers entertainment, politics, news, financials, tech, business and media. Rosenthal said they got 180 million views in October and 10 million video views monthly.

She explained that Cheddar’s young audience is affluent and informed. “We found a really deep niche who we can reach, and we program for them.”

Anchors are young, diverse and represent Cheddar Inc.’s audience.

 “We are where people under 60 watch,” Rosenthal said. “You can’t expect they’re going to find you. We’re on every OTT system, we’re on Twitter and Facebook. The more they interact with us on social, the more likely they’re to watch is on these OTT systems 5-7 times a month. We are where our users and viewers are.”

“Young people are interested in everything older people are,” she said. “It needs to have young talent, be visually vibrant, and have modern delivery.”

Benefits to Cheddar’s model: “the incumbents only stay asleep so long. We can move faster because they aren’t built this way. We’re faster, we’re more nimble, we can outpace them.”

“You can always be outsmarted, but you can never catch up with a company at a lightning pace. We focus on moving fast and taking the opportunities in front. That’s the future of how we see the distribution of content.”