Verizon CEO: We Are Not a Content Company

Others may be seeing blurred lines, but Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam is very clear and what the company is and what it is not.

Even though it's in partnership discussions with AOL, building Internet of Things services, working with app developers and planning an over-the-top video service for the second half of 2015, Verizon is not a content company, McAdam maintains. It's a platform company that will certainly dabble in apps, services and content.

That was the message the Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CEO kept reiterating at a Citi conference Tuesday, where he also shot down the rumor that Verizon is looking to acquire AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL). (See Verizon CEO Denies AOL Acquisition Interest.)

McAdam said Verizon's first priority is maintaining its network superiority through continuous investment and upgrades and then exploring where it can be a platform provider in areas such as IoT, video-over-broadband and digital media services. Apps and services are only the carrier's third priority, he said, and no one should expect Verizon to pursue more than a half-dozen opportunities on its own.

"I don't see us as software company, or in application development, but as a platform company that makes all those things work," McAdam said at the conference. He added that Verizon would pursue "a few apps that will drive interest and loyalty" and cited lifestyle apps as one such example.

"We'll get into application space somewhat, but not all the way to content," the CEO later added.

For more on mobile content strategies, head over to the mobile services/apps content channel on Light Reading.

The single biggest content opportunity Verizon is pursuing, however, is video. Reiterating comments its executives have made in the past, McAdam said the carrier is on track to launch a mobile-first video service in the second half of 2015 (a bit delayed from earlier projections of mid-year). The OTT, à la carte offering is where images of Verizon as a content provider come to mind, but McAdam doesn't see Verizon actually owning much content. Rather, it will rely on partnerships, which he said ramped up in the fourth quarter. (See Verizon Crafting OTT Business Models and Verizon Plans Mobile TV Service in 2015.)

"We'll be aggregator and distributor for most content that will ride that platform," he said, while conceding that there will be a few instances when Verizon will own some of the content, such as its ad insertion technology. "How far we move upstream really depends on the economics of how the market evolves. We're in a position we could go either direction."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

mhhf1ve 1/7/2015 | 4:50:11 PM
meaningless statements... Verizon's CEO isn't really saying anything here. We are a "platform company" doesn't necessarily exclude acquiring a "content" company in the future. Is Comcast a platform company? Is it a content company? Is Netflix a platform company or a content company? What do these words even mean to describe these businesses?

mendyk 1/7/2015 | 9:37:41 AM
Re: Not content as a content provider The only reason I know AOL still exists is a friend's daughter was working there as her first job out of school. But she's since moved on to greener fields. Oh, and the CEO gets in the news every once in a while. As for AOL "content," it's hard to see any "there" there.
Ariella 1/6/2015 | 6:10:32 PM
Re: Not content as a content provider <Is AOL really still considered a "content company"?> [email protected] I didn't know that it's still in business at all. I gave my AOL email address many years ago.
MordyK 1/6/2015 | 6:04:27 PM
Re: Not content as a content provider When I was a kid, my mom used to tell us to keep our eyes in our own plate. As I grew older I took that to mean that if you don't have anything unique, there's no point in doing it just because somebody else is.
KBode 1/6/2015 | 3:04:06 PM
Re: Not content as a content provider Yet they just tried to launch that Silverstring Tech blog they shuttered after people criticized it for refusing to cover issues like net neutrality? Sounds like they kind of do have more than a few content ambitions...
mendyk 1/6/2015 | 2:32:12 PM
Re: Not content as a content provider Is AOL really still considered a "content company"?
Ariella 1/6/2015 | 2:15:40 PM
Re: Not content as a content provider With so many companies getting into content, Verizon likely would not find any competitive advantage in the field. It's better not to try too much to cover everything but to stay focused on what you want to do well.
sarahthomas1011 1/6/2015 | 1:25:08 PM
Not content as a content provider For as much as he stressed that Verizon isn't a content company, he seemed to leave things open for the future. It could own some content and will do 6 or so services and wants to be a platform for any app. It's all semantics really. Verizon will do anything the network can power. I think it's safe to say the AOL acquisition isn't going to happen though. At least not before testing it out as a partner for awhile.
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