AT&T has acquired The Chernin Group’s controlling interest in Otter Media, a joint venture between the two companies.
Otter’s assets include the wholly-owned subsidiaries Ellation, an online subscription video service provider, with offerings under the Crunchyroll and VRV brands, as well as a full-service digital media company, Fullscreen, and its Rooster Teeth brand. Otter also has ownership stakes in Gunpowder & Sky, as well as Hello Sunshine, founded by Reese Witherspoon.
AT&T and The Chernin Group founded Otter Media in 2014 to invest and develop platforms and properties that capitalized on the growth of direct-to-consumer subscription and advertising models, as well as the rise of new digital media brands.
Otter Media will be a part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit. Tony Goncalves, who was appointed Otter’s CEO earlier this year, will continue to run the company, reporting to WarnerMedia’s CEO, John Stankey.
“We are thrilled to incorporate the Otter Media brands and talent into WarnerMedia,” said Stankey. “Working with Tony, we look to harness Otter’s expertise in feeding the passion of online audiences to augment our portfolio of digital assets and help us further engage, connect and entertain consumers around the globe.”
“From the outset, Randall Stephenson and John Stankey championed the Otter strategy and vision, and AT&T has been an ideal partner in building the business—mart, creative and supportive,” said Peter Chernin, CEO of The Chernin Group. “With AT&T’s direct-to-consumer relationships, vast data and varied content, I believe they can accelerate Otter’s growth. The combination with WarnerMedia will create a new-era media company, serving customers with every type of content delivered through every possible distribution channel.”
“The Chernin Group’s support and expertise has helped us expand Otter’s capabilities and refine our strategy over the past several years, and today’s news is a testament to our team’s dedication to super-serving passionate audiences across multiple platforms,” said Goncalves. “Otter’s digital-native talent pool understands that today’s viewers want their entertainment mobile, social and community-centric. We plan to harness Otter’s talent and scale to engage and entertain fans around the world on their own terms. And we will continue to be agile and nimble—a hallmark of Otter Media’s culture—so we can deliver the digital, social-first content that our audiences want.”
“Otter is delivering on our mission to build a leading portfolio of direct-to-consumer media brands that have passionate fans and a multi-pronged business model,” said Jesse Jacobs, president of The Chernin Group. “With AT&T’s portfolio in media, distribution and content, combined with Tony’s leadership, we believe full ownership by AT&T will take these businesses to the next level.”