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AT&T Launches $500M Joint Venture To Invest In The Next Netflix

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There’s a new $500 million pool of potential capital floating around earmarked for the creation of over-the-top video services, thanks to AT&T and Chernin Group, who have collaborated on the new venture (via GigaOM). The team-up aims to pool resources from the two companies to “acquire, invest in and launch” OTT video services, including subscription VOD businesses that operate similarly to Netflix.

Chernin Group already has some experience in this area; the company run by News Corp. vet Peter Chernin took over a majority stake in Crunchyroll, which is essentially the Netflix for anime, late last year. That majority stake will now fall under control of the new venture, meaning AT&T is now also a majority stakeholder in the on demand provider of animated content sourced primarily from Asia.

The big news here, though, is that AT&T is actively pursuing the creation, acquisition or development of a Netflix-killer – or at least of specialty services designed to compete on the same playing field. It’s a sign that the network provider is betting on an OTT model as a likely eventual successor for terrestrial content delivery methods like broadcast TV. Recruiting Chernin Group as its strategic partner in pursuit of that end means that it recognizes this is an area where it needs outside help, rather than something it can try to do alone. AT&T does have the content delivery chops to help optimize the experience, however.

AT&T’s chances of building or incubating a true Netflix-killer are small, but it could make for some strong specialist offerings in the same vein, and ultimately, that’s going to be good for users looking for some new paradigm to replace the broken cable and satellite bundle model.