Verizon aims at cord cutters with mobile video offering

Verizon hopes to entice young cord cutters with a mobile video service filled with original, exclusive content from top digital publishers.

The list of content providers for Verizon’s free Go90 includes Comedy Central, ESPN, Discovery, Vice and YouTube networks like AwesomenessTV, Defy Media, Machinima and Tastemade. Instead of licensing each network’s entire library, Verizon has been cutting deals for individual TV shows, Web series and live events.

Verizon hopes to build Go90 into a legitimate destination for people to watch a lot of video by offering exclusive content you can’t get elsewhere. Through an existing mobile partnership with the NFL, for instance, Go90 will stream live games — though only for the company’s wireless customers.

The NFL and TV networks are providing the content that appeals to a broad range of viewers, which is an important move when the goal is to grow a large user base. But with some of its digital media partners, Verizon is investing in original programming.

For instance, with AwesomenessTV, the company struck a multi-year deal under which the YouTube network will produce more than 200 hours of video for two channels on the service: the teen-oriented AwesomenessTV and the family-oriented DreamWorksTV.

Defy Media is currently in production on several new original series for Go90 under its Clevver, ScreenJunkies and Made Man entertainment and lifestyle brands, the company said. It will also be providing library content from those sites as well as Smosh and Smosh Games.

This is different from Go90’s closest potential competitor, Comcast’s Watchable, which has deals with a similar group of digital publishers but is — at least initially — focused on syndicating content from established brands rather than commissioning exclusive originals. The service is expected to launch on Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes, online and on mobile later this year.

The allure of a mobile video service such as Go90 for digital networks and publishers is obvious. “You look at how many customers they have on their devices and the ability for them to push a new product through that pipeline, and it becomes very interesting,” said Keith Richman, president of Defy Media. “Content can be a way to expand and deepen the relationship with those consumers — arguably Amazon was one of the first to try it [with Amazon Prime Video].”

Verizon also has a billing relationship with many of these customers, which opens quite a few possibilities for monetization beyond simply advertising.

However, Go90 won’t be restricted to just Verizon customers. A free and ad-supported product — powered by AOL, which Verizon acquired earlier this year — the goal is to make Go90 available to as many people as possible. (Eventually, it might also expand to other, larger video screens, the company said.)

“They are extremely savvy marketers,” said Kelly Day, chief digital officer at AwesomenessTV. “When you look at their investment in original content and getting access to rights that others don’t have, and then you add the distribution they have with a 100 million subscribers in the U.S. and layer in their marketing, they have a great chance to build a successful product.”

Top image via stockelements /

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