Mobile Video

Verizon Scores New OTT Content Deals

With an announced summer launch date rolling ever closer, Verizon revealed today that it has signed several new content deals in support of its planned mobile video service. The deals are all sports-related and include agreements with ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN and 120 Sports. The licensed content focuses heavily on live events, game highlights, commentary and sports documentaries.

Verizon reiterated in its press release today that it's targeting millennial consumers with new "mobile-first" video offerings. The company previously signed over-the-top deals for access to AwesomenessTV and DreamWorksTV, but it has not detailed whether or how it might package those assets together with the newly licensed sports content. In fact, EVP and CFO Fran Shammo hinted during an earnings call in January that Verizon is working on several different mobile video services, noting he would have a lot more to say about the business model "when we launch our first product this summer." (See Verizon, Sony Primp for OTT Debuts and Verizon Likes OTT Video Prospects.)

Shammo has also repeatedly said that Verizon will use LTE multicast technology for its mobile video products. However, it's unclear how compelling that option would be for consumers. While multicast technology can save operators significant bandwidth by consolidating the number of video streams needed to distribute content, any video delivered over a mobile network has the potential to push users past their bandwidth caps. Budget-conscious customers in particular are likely to gravitate toward watching video on mobile devices over WiFi, rather than risk expensive data overages.

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It's also unclear where Verizon might draw the line between a mobile-specific video service and a broader online video offering. Shammo has highlighted the trend toward over-the-top services, and has cited successful efforts by companies like Dish Network and HBO as evidence that new business models are possible. The CFO has not, however, indicated what path Verizon will follow, except to say it won't be "a traditional linear TV model."

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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