Verizon tries to stream its way to the small screen

Nova Safo Sep 8, 2015

Verizon tries to stream its way to the small screen

Nova Safo Sep 8, 2015

If ever there was a group that should feel loved by the entire content-providing world, its millennials. Their fickle ways have everyone from cable companies to TV networks to telecoms pining for their attention.

Especially on their mobile devices.

Now Verizon is adding its new streaming TV service to the mix. You won’t even need to be a Verizon customer to use it.

Called Go90 — as in flip that phone 90 degrees to watch videos — the video streaming service is free and comes with some video-on-demand content from 15 cable channels, other content providers, such as Vice, and live broadcasts of some sports games and concerts.

Verizon has been gearing up for the service since it bought Intel’s video-streaming technology two years ago.

Since then, the wireless carriers have been putting TV watchers in their teens to 30s in a room and watching how they watch.

“You’d have some great content on the TV,” Verizon spokesperson Alberto Canal says. “Yet, they’d all be focused on their mobile devices.”

Go90 is aimed at mobile viewing and allows users to pull clips from programs they’re watching and share them on social networks. At the same time, they can live chat with friends while watching shows.

“We don’t think that exists today in the best of shape,” Canal says.

“Pay television is facing really an erosion right now,” says James McQuivey of Forrester Research. He says Verizon’s video-streaming efforts are aimed at taking market share from cable TV.

But the big question, McQuivey says, is whether Verizon will be able to bring in enough revenue through ad sales to cover the cost of expensive content.

Otherwise, Verizon won’t be able to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

“We think the mobile, mobile video market is way under valued. We think Go90 offers incredible value proposition for advertisers, too. And since we recently purchased AOL, we now have that tool set, too,” Canal says.

McQuivey says one advantage of Go90 might be that Verizon will get to gather more direct information about how viewers consume content.

“You might be using Facebook or YouTube on your Verizon phone, but Verizon doesn’t actually get to know what you’re watching,” and Go90 could change that, McQuivey says.

In addition to selling ads, Verizon might also make money by encouraging people to use more mobile data, says analyst Michael Wolf of NextMarket Insights.

“The more data you use,” says Wolf, “the higher data tier you’re going to be.”

Verizon’s Canal says data isn’t why Verizon has started the streaming service. 

“People are using data already,” Canal says. What Verizon wants is to be a key player in the multiscreen world into which TV is evolving.

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