Verizon Promises Live Sports On New Mobile Streaming TV Service — But Not The Ones You Actually Watch


TV, as in programming we all like to watch, is a great bet for the future. TV, as in rabbit ears or a cable box, maybe less so. Everyone and their grandmother is leaping to get content available over the internet. From Sony to CBS to HBO to Netflix, streaming services, both for your home and for your mobile device, are the hot new thing. And Verizon wants to play that game too.

Verizon first announced their plans for a new over-the-top TV streaming service back in September, 2014. At the time, details were scant. Last month, they finally provided a few morsels of ingormation, like a timeline (this summer).

Verizon already offers mobile streaming for customers with FiOS, but the as-yet-unnamed streaming service is something else altogether. It is, Verizon touts, “a mobile-first solution that redefines over-the-top video for wireless customers.”

In an announcement today, Verizon also promised basically the holy grail of non-cable video services: live sports programming.

Sports are basically the great anchor keeping subscribers on their cable packages. For fans of pro and college ball (of all seasons and types), the best way to see your favorite teams is still with a traditional package from your (not so) friendly local cable or satellite provider. Getting the rights to a broad spectrum of live sports is a coup for any OTT provider.

But here’s the catch. The new service, Verizon specifies, will include the ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, 120 Sports, selections from CBS Sports, and selected live games and documentaries from ESPN.

Campus Insiders and 120 Sports are services that specialize in repackaged material and highlight clips. And that “selected” content from CBS and ESPN is a big fat asterisk.

In other words: it’s not really bringing you the full season of football, basketball, or even baseball — pro or college — that sports fans so desire. Tech site Re/Code asked aruond and was told that Verizon’s service will have dozens of games from CBS Sports and ESPN, but not the high-profile ones: “A CBS rep says those games will come from College Sports Live, its pay service that shows lower-profile college games. Verizon also says it will show ‘select live college football and college basketball games’ from ESPN; a person familiar with the company says those games will come from ESPN 3, the digital network ESPN offers to pay TV subscribers with access to its linear TV channels.”

Not the big-budget stuff. And probably not the games you actually most want to watch.

Live sports programming is still the trickiest thing to find at a low cost, for consumers. Dish’s Sling service probably comes closest, offering a whole bunch of EPSN’s networks plus TNT. CBS has launched its own service, but NFL games (Sunday and Thursday Night football) are specifically excluded from streaming on it. AT&T is trying to capture NFL Sunday Ticket for mobile as part of their planned merger with DirecTV.

Putting together a full package of streaming sports is still a complicated, patchwork endeavor without having a monthly pay-TV subscription. Verizon’s new streaming service may or may not prove to be a good deal for Verizon Wireless customers, but for hardcore sports fans, it’s not going to be enough.

[via Re/Code]