Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?

It's been a week of streaming video news. Not just the big announcements like Comcast's launch of Watchable and TiVo's new all-in-one Bolt DVR, but also smaller updates, like the addition of Sling TV to Chromecast, a Netflix deal to stream video on Virgin flights and the NBA's decision to simulcast one of its programs on cable and its Facebook page.

Into that maelstrom of news now comes word that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has officially launched its long-awaited Go90 mobile video service. Go90 is available to everyone, and it's free to download as an app for iOS or Android. Content includes some cable shows and short-form web-based content, along with live music and sports events. The service also touts a number of social sharing features, including a chat function, crowd-sourced recommendations and even a "Cut and Share" feature that lets users clip sections from select shows and share them online.

Go90 is the product of literally years of development and company acquisitions. It has a solid technical foundation supported by Verizon's own video delivery platform, and it has the potential to tap new sources of revenue from advertising and sponsorships. For a history, see:

The big question now is, will anyone use it?

With so many sources of content available on so many different devices in so many places, it takes a standout service to draw attention from the millennial audience that Verizon craves. The issue is not even whether the service is well put-together, but whether it offers something users aren't getting somewhere else.

Want to know more about the impact of web services on the pay-TV sector? Check out our dedicated OTT services content channel here on Light Reading.

When YouTube Inc. launched, it was a pioneer in showcasing user-generated video content. When Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) started streaming TV shows and movies, it was the first to do so in any kind of practical way. And while Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) joined the streaming video party much later, it has gained traction because of Amazon's new original programming.

The bulk of the content available on Go90 is also available for free in other places, and it's unclear if Verizon's exclusive content -- which appears to be largely built around celebrity projects (a Sarah Silverman show, an original series from James Franco) and content extras from networks like MTV and the Discovery Channel -- is compelling enough to draw viewers. Verizon thinks it can differentiate the service through its social aspects. But social elements are also embedded in lots of other video platforms, and it's hard to turn social media features into a driving force for popularity.

Live event streaming could make the difference for Go90, but that assumes that Verizon will be able to offer access to live events that viewers care about either exclusively, or in a way that's cheaper or easier than the other options available.

Verizon has a wealth of technical expertise and the resources to support a full-fledged mobile video service. But that doesn't mean it knows how to navigate an entertainment market that is growing more fractured every day. On that front, only time will tell.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

wanlord 10/8/2015 | 6:24:47 PM
tried it...very sad if they really worked on this thing for a year, they are in big trouble. it's really bad, sad, no chance of even being a fad. the positive user reviews are obviously paid or verizon employees with glowing reviews that only a marketing person could make up.
KBode 10/5/2015 | 8:21:19 AM
Re: Yes, I will watch...laughing "The people who launched it will get promoted. Then when the product falls "90 degrees" on it's face, they will not got fired, but move onto yet another project."

You sir, have it exactly right. My grandmother used to say that people "raise to the level of their incompetence..." That's certainly true at big telcos. That money should have been invested into core transit and last mile networks.
danielcawrey 10/4/2015 | 2:44:15 PM
Re: Yeah... I would certainly watch – if this wasy available on my laptop. 

Mobile devices just don't seem like great viewing apparatuses to me. I do see benefit view from a computer – I don't really even use a TV since I already have another device that I can view video with. 
wanlord 10/3/2015 | 4:53:24 PM
Yes, I will watch...laughing The people who launched it will get promoted. Then when the product falls "90 degrees" on it's face, they will not got fired, but move onto yet another project. They are the same ones who ran Multi Screen Video, OTT, Redbox Streaming, VDMS, and many many other video projects into the ground! Can't blame them for trying though. They know they don't have a sticky product when they spend so much to promote it...How often do you see Netflix, Facebook, Youtube throwing expensive marketing parties? If the app and content is great, it will grow organically...
DaveZNF 10/2/2015 | 5:33:57 PM
Your Answer "Will Anyone Watch?"

Mitch Wagner 10/2/2015 | 5:31:18 PM
Features and functionality Features and functionality don't really matter to the appeal of a service. What matters is whether there is content people want to watch. 

If Verizon is talking up features and functionality rather than content, that suggests they don't HAVE compelling content, which means the service has a questonable future. 
steve q 10/1/2015 | 6:31:34 PM
Re: Yeah... I see this just like the redbox it work for the customer but the people behind the scene never quit understand it. This will have lot's of issue when the customer see what there data plan will be, verizon should have look at goggle, apple tv, and where the customer is moving to video over a cellphone is not there answer.
KBode 10/1/2015 | 3:07:11 PM
Re: Yeah... I did and generally found it clunky and uninteresting. Though yes, you and I are officially old now. :)

And yeah I've yet to see much marketing for it outside all of the news outlets Verizon now owns talking about it. Nothing about this really screams sexy or new.
msilbey 10/1/2015 | 2:19:55 PM
Re: Yeah... Have you tried the app out yet? I find it very cluttered with most of the content I might be interested in hidden under several layers. However, I'm not the target audience.

Also, what's going to drive users to the service? I wonder if Verizon has a major marketing campaign planned, otherwise Go90 will be just be one more app lost in the app store. 
KBode 10/1/2015 | 1:44:23 PM
Yeah... "The issue is not even whether the service is well put-together, but whether it offers something users aren't getting somewhere else."

And I just don't see that somewhere else being Verizon (even if the Verizon brand is obfuscated). I'll be genuinely surprised if this service seriously takes off. Verizon has a long, long dusty road filled with similar "me too" efforts to cash in on new markets, but they've historically not had the innovative or disruptive chops necessary to pull them off.

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