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Photo: Cheddar

Cheddar, the streaming news service for millennials, and Magic Leap, a mixed reality company, are teaming up to put Cheddar's two live news networks on Magic Leap One augmented reality devices.

Why it matters: These will be the first live news channels made available in mixed reality to all Magic Leap One owners.

The big picture: The move is part of a bigger trend of media companies pushing to try new forms of distribution.

  • Cheddar's lead mobile engineer, Stephanie Lo, who built the beta version of the service, says the technology could be a smart way in the future to combine second-screen video viewing.
  • "Think about how many people are watching TV while also browsing something at the same time. I think this gives us a platform to potentially marry the two."

Yes, but: The idea is meant to be a seed project that's being built far ahead of commercial applicability, mostly for buzz and experimentation. Magic Leap is only available now via a very pricey developer version, so the audience for the news channels will be small at first.

  • "In my three years running the company, I've always been focusing on generating revenue and getting carriage on big systems. I wanted to do one R&D project," says Cheddar CEO and founder Jon Steinberg.
  • "I think a media company like us needs to have one long-term bet. A lot of other media companies can only see ahead to the next quarter. I'm trying to think a few years away."

The details: Magic Leap is licensing Cheddar's live business and headline news networks for its augmented reality headsets. The live video streams will exist as news panels that can be placed anywhere in the user’s room. (See video above.)

  • Users will be able to pin a hovering live Cheddar news screen while performing other work or entertainment activities in the Magic Leap environment.
  • The content itself will be the same the channels show outside of the mixed reality environment for now, says Steinberg, but the company might experiment with creating custom content specifically for Magic Leap in the future. The companies are working to make broadcasts available both on-demand and live.

Between the lines: Cheddar and Magic Leap share an investor in AT&T. Both companies focus on the future of content distribution — Cheddar through live digital TV and Magic Leap through augmented and virtual reality.

For Cheddar, the business strategy has always been to build an extensive distribution network to make sure their content is consumed as widely as possible, but until now that has meant mostly two avenues:

  1. Authenticated feeds that people have to pay for (Cheddar's app or its channel on digital TV bundles like YouTube TV or Dish's Sling) .
  2. Free clips that can lure new subscribers on social media, on college campus TVs or at gas station pumps.

By the numbers: Steinberg says Cheddar will bring in about $30 million in top-line revenue this year and will be profitable by the end of next year. "We'll lose $4 million roughly and as of today, after acquisitions, we have $30 million in bank, with a vast majority of that being in cash."

“We are basically Tesla, and CNBC and CNN are Ford and GM. Yes, they ship more cars in a week than we ship in a year, but you know what? We’re running on electric power, have much better software and our car drives itself.”
Steinberg

What's next? Steinberg says he'd like to build a volumetric camera studio (a studio that can capture video in 3D for augmented or virtual reality), so that in the future, the company can add custom 3D interviews to a variety of augmented reality experiences on Magic Leap devices.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.