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Peter Chernin Says Live Sports on Web Will Be Bigger Than on TV (Video)

"Fifteen years ago people said sports would never be on cable," the former News Corp. president said.

Asa Mathat
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Live sports is heading to the Web, a move that former News Corp. President Peter Chernin called “inevitable,” and he predicted that online sports programming could actually be a bigger business than its TV counterpart.

“I’m not sure what the timeline is,” Chernin said in an interview with Peter Kafka at the Code/Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday, “but there’s clearly more money to be made online.”

How? The combination of the potential for online sports subscriptions coupled with characteristics such as the global nature of the Web and “almost zero distribution friction” gives Chernin hope that online sports deals are a matter of when, not if.

“Fifteen years ago people said sports would never be on cable,” he said.

Chernin wouldn’t call out a specific digital company that he thinks can secure digital video rights from sports leagues, but said he figures it would be one of the big tech giants or perhaps a telecom company.

Of course, Chernin has every reason to express optimism for the future of digital video. He’s the CEO of The Chernin Group, which has formed a joint venture with AT&T called Otter Media, a startup aimed at creating “a group of online video streaming properties, or ‘over the top’ channels, backed by at least $500 million from the telco,” Kafka explained in a July post.

In September, Otter purchased the big YouTube video network Fullscreen for between $200 million and $300 million. Fullscreen itself has recently bought online video comedy and gaming network Rooster Teeth, and Otter also owns the anime subscription site Crunchyroll.

These deals are happening at a time when YouTube, which Fullscreen was built upon, is being challenged by new platforms such as Facebook and competition expected from Twitter and Snapchat as well.

“It’s going to be a golden age for video distribution,” Chernin said.

“It’s fashionable to whine about YouTube, and I don’t feel that way at all,” Chernin said. “But competition is great for everybody. Competition will be great for us, but conversely I think it’ll also be good for YouTube.”

Here are some video highlights of the conversation:

This article originally appeared on

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