Verizon, Sony Primp for OTT Debuts
With two very different strategies in place, both Verizon and Sony have released new details on their planned over-the-top video services slated to launch shortly in the US.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced Wednesday that its OTT offering will include channels for AwesomenessTV and DreamWorksTV, featuring more than 200 hours of original programming. At about the same time, Sony Corp. of America told The Wall Street Journal that it will launch its new PlayStation Vue service in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia within the next two weeks, followed by a national rollout later this year.
Verizon has indicated in the past that it doesn't intend to replicate cable TV in an OTT service, and the company's latest content deals back up that assertion. Targeted at teens and young adults, AwesomenessTV delivers both scripted and reality TV shows and boasts 112 million subscribers across its YouTube channel and through distribution deals with Nickelodeon and Netflix. AwesomenessTV and Dreamworks TV, which features short-form live-action and animated content, are both owned by DreamWorks LLC Animation and Hearst Corporation.
While Verizon hasn't said if it will package the two DreamWorks networks with other content, it has declared that it wants to focus on the millennial audience, especially through mobile video services. "It's increasingly clear that 'mobile first' is the way millennials are consuming all types of content, especially HD video and music," said Terry Denson, VP of content acquisition and strategy at Verizon.
Verizon EVP and CFO Fran Shammo previously noted the company will use LTE Multicast technology for OTT services. However, Shammo described using multicast delivery specifically for live events, so it's still not certain whether LTE Multicast is in the cards for the near term. (See Verizon Crafting OTT Business Models.)
Sony, meanwhile, has teased its upcoming OTT service since beta trials began last November. Unlike Verizon, Sony is creating a large bundle of channels with big-name networks, including channels from 21st Century Fox , CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), NBCUniversal LLC and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA). The company has been tight-lipped about pricing, but reports surfaced last fall that the service would sell for between $60 and $80 per month. That compares to Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s new $20-per-month Sling TV service, which includes much fewer channels but does carry the ABC and ESPN networks owned by Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). (See Sony Goes OTT With PlayStation Vue and Sony, Dish Hit OTT TV Pricing Wall.)
“Even absent ESPN, we are very confident that we have a very robust offering in the sports area with existing partnerships,” Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, told the Journal.
The PlayStation Vue service is initially operating on Sony's PS3 and PS4 game consoles, but Sony also plans to offer content on Apple iPads in the future. The service is currently in invitation-only field trials in the three selected launch cities.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading