(In 6th paragraph, corrects to show Chernin Group, not Otter
Media, acquired Barstool Sports)
By Tim Baysinger
Nov 21 Otter Media, the joint venture between
AT&T Inc and The Chernin Group, has partnered with Reese
Witherspoon to form a new multimedia company, Hello Sunshine,
aimed at telling female-driven stories.
Witherspoon's involvement in Hello Sunshine will come via
her production company Pacific Standard, which counts films
"Wild," "Gone Girl," and the upcoming HBO series "Big Little
Lies" among its credits. As a subsidiary of Hello Sunshine,
Pacific Standard will continue to make TV shows and films, but
now will also branch out to include shorter-run digital content
tailored for social media.
AT&T partnered with longtime media executive Peter Chernin
to form Otter Media in 2014 as a way to capitalize on the
booming streaming video industry, committing more than $500
million to buy and or launch new companies.
The new company could give AT&T an early stake hold in a
marketplace currently light on content made both for and by
women. A study by USC-Annenberg found that female characters
made up only 28.7 percent of all speaking roles in film, while
women accounted for just 15 percent of directors.
Witherspoon launched Pacific Standard with her producing
partner Bruna Papandrea in 2012 as a means to get more women
both behind and in front of the camera in more prominent roles.
Papandrea recently left to start her own venture.
Otter Media's portfolio includes digital media company
Fullscreen Media (which owns digital studio Rooster Teeth),
social marketing agency McBeard, and Gunpowder & Sky, the
digital studio launched by former Viacom executive Van Toffler.
Otter Media also has invested in the Japanese anime and gaming
space with two streaming video services in Crunchyroll and VRV.
Earlier this year, Chernin Group also acquired sports media
company Barstool Sports.
AT&T has been in the process of acquiring Time Warner Inc
, a deal expected to close next year should it pass
regularly hurdles. Last week, Time Warner's studio Warner Bros.
agreed to acquire all of digital media company Machinima, a
competitor to Fullscreen.
Kerry Tucker will serve as chief executive of Hello
Sunshine. Tucker most recently engineered the sale of The Video
Genome Project, a content-recommendation start-up, to Hulu.
Seth Rodsky, founding partner of Strand Equity Partners, is
partnered with Witherspoon on the deal and will join the Hello
(Reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by David Gregorio)