Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, the company behind Crackle and Redbox, announced this week it will serve as a distributor for a startup news operation that presents the day's headlines using artificial intelligence (AI).
The startup, called Channel 1, will launch a free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel that will be distributed across 140 touchpoints including the Redbox and Crackle apps for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung next February, which will put Channel 1's unique approach to news presentation in front of millions of streamers. News content offered through Channel 1 is personalized based on a streamer’s location and interest, with a combination of real photography and videos interspersed with AI-generated imagery. A standalone Channel 1 will debut a few months after the FAST channel, the companies said.
The partnership will also see Channel 1 license its AI toolbox to Chicken Soup, which the companies say will "unlock significant value to its over 10,000 titles of movies and TV series." Specifically, the AI tools will allow Chicken Soup to offer localized, computer-generated translations for its films and television episodes.
"Channel 1 is truly the future of streaming news, and we are delighted to be working with them on distribution for their service," William Rouhana, Jr., the chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement on Thursday. "Their AI is some of the most sophisticated and advanced technology we’ve seen. Their localization technology will unlock significant value in our deep catalog of over 10,000 movies and TV series, enabling us to easily translate them into any language at virtually no additional cost."
Channel 1 was launched earlier this year by entrepreneur Adam Mosam and television industry veteran Scott Zabielski, whose credits include the Comedy Central clip show "Tosh.0" and the topical satire news program "The Jim Jeffries Show."
Earlier this year, Mosam and Zabielski demoed Channel 1's abilities by circulating a clip of a news presenter reading a business headline that pulled from one of the Walt Disney Company's quarterly financial earnings disclosures.
Entertainment trade publication The Hollywood Reporter got a first-hand look at the news clip, with its reporter Alex Weprin writing that Channel 1's AI-generated news anchor "look convincing, in the way that many AI-generated images are today." But Mosam and Zabielski said "convincing" wasn't good enough, in that most people didn't want to watch something akin to a video game character delivering serious news.
"I think if the technology was stuck here, this would be a really hard sell," Zabielski said t the time. "So part of what we’re doing is, like any technology, you can’t wait until it’s perfect to start on day one. So we’re obviously getting ahead of this and we’re looking down the road at 12 months from now, 18 months from now, three years from now. It is going to get to a point where you absolutely will not be able to tell the difference between watching AI and watching a human being, but we also understand that there’s going to be a pathway from here to there."
The Channel 1 partnership with Chicken Soup goes beyond just delivering the news, with both companies hoping the AI technology will give Chicken Soup's various streaming endeavors a leg up on the competition.
"Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s distribution footprint is one of the largest in streaming, which will provide us with immediate scale," Zabielski said in a statement. "Our AI technology will also give them an easy, inexpensive way to unlock massive value in their content library by localizing content into any language. We’re delighted to be working with them on this and other projects in the future."
Crackle and Redbox will not be the first streaming services to integrate AI tools to offer more features and value to users. Earlier this year, Fox-owned Tubi integrated various elements of OpenAI's ChatGPT into its mobile app that serves up personalized recommendations for new TV shows and movies to watch. Other services, like Netflix, Amazon's Prime Video and Disney+ have used various AI-driven technology to power their recommendation algorithms that work along the same lines.