Verizon Snags Broad HBO Now Rights

Seeking to make its own big splash in the over-the-top video market, Verizon has struck a deal to offer the HBO Now OTT service to both its broadband and mobile subscribers.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) announced a sweeping deal Tuesday that gives the big US telco the right to distribute HBO Now to its 9.2 million standalone broadband customers today, including both DSL and FiOS subscribers. Verizon thus joins one of its chief broadband and pay-TV rivals, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), in offering the new HBO OTT service to its customers. Like Cablevision, Verizon is offering the service for $14.99 a month, following a 30-day free trial.

Even more intriguingly, the deal allows Verizon to distribute HBO Now to all of its other "digital platforms," including its nearly 110 million wireless subscribers. In their joint announcement yesterday, the two companies said HBO content will "be coming soon to Verizon's upcoming mobile platform," which will reportedly be called Go90 and is slated to launch later this summer. It will be a free, ad-supported service. (See Verizon Dubs New OTT Service Go90 – Report.)

In other public statements, Verizon has confirmed over-the-top content deals with AwesomenessTV and DreamWorksTV; Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA); Vice Media; Scripps Networks ; and several sports networks, including ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN and 120 Sports. Verizon also just completed its purchase of AOL, which will bring in both more content and a well-established advertising platform.

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As a result, the planned Go90 service looks to be increasingly well-stocked with entertainment, sports and other programming. Verizon has not yet revealed whether Go90 will be a "skinny-bundle" or bigger-package service.

With the pickup of Verizon, HBO Now continues its relentless expansion of traditional and non-traditional video outlets. Besides being offered by Cablevision and Verizon, the standalone OTT service is now being distributed via Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) devices, Android tablets and smartphones and Amazon Fire tablets. HBO has also swung distribution deals to put the service on Chromecast and other Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) mobile devices, as well as other Amazon Fire and Android TV devices.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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