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CEO: Yahoo, AOL Part of Future Verizon OTT Video Offering

24 May, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In the evolution of over-the-top video, Verizon has largely taken baby steps.

The telecom partnered with kiosk vendor Redbox for “Redbox Instant by Verizon,” the short-lived streaming/digital sales/disc rental platform that shuttered in 2014 after just 20 months of operation. Culprit: Lack of corporate resolve to engage Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu in content spending.

In 2015, Verizon bowed Go90, the odd-named app marketed to mobile users streaming ad-supported content — including reality-based competition series “The Runner” from executive producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

The show, which offered daily $15,000 bounties to contestants tracking “The Runner,” was quietly eclipsed by the Pokémon Go craze that swept up millions of potential Go90 users instead chasing digital Pokémon characters. A second season of “The Runner” is still on the slate.

“I think [Go90] did get a little bit over-hyped and I'm sure we contributed to that to a certain extent,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Confab in New York on May 24, 2016.

Fast-forward to May 22, 2017, at the same investor conference and McAdam sounded cautiously optimistic Verizon will eventually bow an OTT video service. He made no mention of Go90.

Indeed, Verizon acquired the digital rights to stream a 2017 NFL regular season game from London this fall. It also has exclusive mobile streaming rights to the Super Bowl.

But launching a standalone OTT video service is dependent upon closing the telecom’s $4.5 billion purchase of Yahoo (expected next month) and integrating previous purchase AOL, among other factors, said McAdam.

Verizon has entered into a content license agreement with Hearst Communications for undisclosed programing, in addition to streaming National Women’s Soccer League matches on Go90.

“We're learning a lot there,” McAdam said. “We've done a lot with the women's soccer league … and it's getting a lot of viewership. So the platform will be in place to do an over-the-top sort of play. And we'll go out and test it, but we have not committed to a launch date or anything. We're going to see how this evolves.”

On the other hand, Verizon lost 13,000 FiOS Video subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. The telecom added 43,000 video subs in the previous-year period. The telecom cited softer demand for linear video due to the increase in rival OTT video offerings and mobile video consumption, among other issues.


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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