Since last July, Sony Pictures Television had been looking for a partner on Sony Crackle, its free, ad-supported streaming service—and now its search is over.
Sony has sold a majority stake in Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment), and will partner on a new OTT service called Crackle Plus, which will feature content from both companies. In addition to Sony Crackle, the new service will include CSS content like Popcornflix, Popcornflix Kids, FrightPix and Truli.
More and more companies have been looking to increase their presence in the AVOD (advertising video on demand) space, offering consumers free streaming options compared to SVOD (subscription video on demand) services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Earlier this month, Viacom closed on its deal to buy Pluto TV for $340 million.
“We were drawn to CSS Entertainment as our partner in this venture because of its aggressive, entrepreneurial approach,” said Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins in a statement. “The CSS Entertainment team have the enthusiasm and strong business acumen to ensure Crackle Plus is poised to maximize the growing opportunities in the AVOD marketplace.”
Crackle Plus will have a combined audience of nearly 10 million monthly active users, and more than 38,500 hours of programming.
“This transaction positions CSS Entertainment as a leader in the high-growth AVOD business,” said William J. Rouhana Jr., chairman and CEO of CSS Entertainment, in a statement. “Creating a new platform that brings together CSS Entertainment’s VOD assets with SPT’s Crackle brand and AVOD assets, establishes a compelling offering for viewers and advertisers. Consistent with our business plan, we plan to build Crackle Plus aggressively and profitably through organic growth and, potentially, acquisitions.”
Sony Crackle had been actively looking for a partner since last summer, when Hopkins told staff in a memo that he was looking to bring on a partner “to drive scale and position the streaming network to be more competitive.”
“Everybody is looking to play a little bit bigger and have more scale,” Eric Berger, gm for Crackle and evp and chief digital officer for Sony Pictures Television Networks, told Adweek last year.
In that environment, going alone “may not enable us to achieve our full potential,” said Berger.