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Verizon Eyes Streaming Sports and News

10 Dec, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CEO believes Redbox Instant could ultimately deliver live content

In the rapidly evolving home entertainment landscape with increased access to movies, episodic programming and live TV via broadband sources, subscription video-on-demand services such as Redbox Instant and Netflix delivering news and sports programming is not far fetched, Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam told an investor group.

Specifically, as Internet video services attract larger audiences for archived movies and TV programming, scuttlebutt suggests they could also stream live news and sports — heretofore mainstays of broadcast networks and multichannel video program distributors such as cable. 

“I think there are going to be a whole bunch of sources for online video content, including Netflix and YouTube. Redbox Instant by Verizon can certainly play in there. We expect to scale that appropriately over time,” McAdam said Dec. 9 at the UBS Global Media and Communication Conference in New York.

Redbox Instant is a joint partnership between Redbox and Verizon.

McAdam said Verizon has been having “lots of discussions” with the sports leagues, who he said appear to like the idea, especially out of market and on alternative week nights. Major obstacles include current content rights held by third parties that need to be worked through and concerns cannibalizing the day of broadcast.

McAdam said broadband channels offer content holders tens of millions of new eyeballs, especially mobile, which he called a win, win for all parties. Yet, sports has proven thus far to be immune to repurposing and piracy largely due to the fact viewers want to see it live and not tape-delayed.

For the record, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said he has no interest in pursuing live broadcasts of news and sports. But McAdam believes the times are changing.

“I think the market has demonstrated that it wants it. You can see that in the performance of companies like Redbox and Netflix. And so, we’re going to have to figure out how to get there. There will be several different business models for different technologies. Several different venues to get it out there, but I predict in the next two years you’ll see some dramatic change in viewership,” he said.

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