Millennial-Focused Video Network Cheddar Looking for Brands to Sponsor Shows

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Jon Steinberg, the former president of BuzzFeed, is moving quickly to expand the programming and distribution of Cheddar, the video network he launched earlier this year.

In May, Cheddar, which streams on Facebook Live and Sling, added a new 30-minute show from female-focused publisher Bustle, though it's been temporarily paused. Now, the company is hoping to find brands to underwrite five ideas for 30-minute shows, in a built-if-sold fashion similar to the way many media companies pitch new shows at the annual NewFront presentations.

The shows, if made, will focus on automobiles ("Wheels"), smart spending ("Points on Point"), real estate ("Your Future Home"), and personal finance ("Your Cheddar"). The fifth show concept, "Cheddar Trading," would bring together a roundtable of young people to discuss trading.

Mr. Steinberg, who served as a North American executive for MailOnline after leaving BuzzFeed, said it's likely that two of the five concepts will end up getting made. Melissa Rosenthal, a former BuzzFeed executive who joined the company in May to head up creative development and partnerships, said all five shows will be made if they find sponsors.

Ms. Rosenthal said the show sponsorships will cost "significantly more" than semi-weekly brand integrations, which start at $100,000 per year with a one-year commitment. Brands that sponsor these shows will have to make a long-term commitment, she said, owing to the difficulty and labor-intensiveness of making them.

Brands like Fidelity, Diageo, and Mailchimp have all purchased integrations on Cheddar.

Cheddar's flagship finance-focused show streams daily from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., followed by a lifestyle show ("Cheddar Life") from noon to 1:30 p.m. From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., the network streams on Twitter from the New York Stock Exchange. Hundreds of thousands of people watch the network daily on Facebook, according to Ms. Rosenthal.

Cheddar, she said, will have to hire new employees to work on the shows if they are made. "It's a huge undertaking," she said.

Cheddar wants brands to know that the shows will not feel like 30-minute-long advertisements, which would likely turn viewers off. Rather, they would more closely follow the model embraced by Vice Media, in which brands sponsor editorial shows but don't control the content.

"We don't want to make the show overly branded, and we want to make sure the partnerships are meaningful," Ms. Rosenthal said.

The company is hoping to launch the first brand-sponsored show in early 2017.