AT&T is teaming up with Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon on a venture to create content focused on women’s stories.
While AT&T continues to pursue a traditional, big media strategy by acquiring Time Warner, the carrier has also been quietly developing more millennial friendly, online content.
The latest deal came on Monday, as AT&T’s Otter Media joint venture announced a partnership with Witherspoon to develop a new media startup aimed at women called Hello Sunshine. The venture recruited former Martha Stewart and Victoria’s Secret marketing exec Kerry Tucker as CEO.
AT&T has been looking for new avenues for growth as its traditional wired and wireless telecommunications businesses have slowed. Big acquisitions, like the $49 billion purchase of DirecTV last year and this year’s $109 billion offer for Time Warner, bring major revenue streams. But with traditional media under siege from cord cutting and a general lack of interest from younger viewers, AT&T is hedging its bets and investing in short video and other Internet-focused content via Otter Media.
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Hello Sunshine will focus on female-driven stories, but the formats will run the gamut including everything from social and short video posts to more traditional television shows and movies, all the while leveraging Witherspoon’s clout. Her existing TV and movie production firm, Pacific Standard, will be incorporated as “an integral part of the new company,” the companies said in a press release.
“My lifelong passion has been to tell women’s stories with authenticity and humor,” Witherspoon, who has starred in movies such as Legally Blonde and Walk the Line, said in a statement. “This partnership will allow me to reach a greater audience that is eager for more female driven content.”
Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea, her producing partner at Pacific Standard, parted ways in September. The pair developed hit movies with prominent roles for women actors, such as Gone Girl and Wild. The company had 26 projects in the works as of April, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
But Witherspoon has also been an active presence on social media, where her book plugs on Instagram, using the hashtag #RWBookClub, can set off a surge of new sales. Hello Sunshine is planning to be active on Snapchat, Twitter
and Instagram at the start.
Tucker was most recently at the Video Genome Project, a startup building recommendation and personalization technology that was just bought by Hulu. Before that, she was chief marketing officer at Victoria’s Secret and head of marketing at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Otter Media is a joint venture between AT&T
and Peter Cherin, former president of News Corp. Otter Media’s prior efforts include Fullscreen, a $5-per-month subscription video service aimed at millennials.