Report: Verizon Planning To Jump Into The Streaming-TV Fray While Go90 Flails

Image courtesy of Al Ibrahim

It’s been two years since Verizon launched its Go90 streaming video service, and it often feels like the only people who talk about it are tech journalists who occasionally mention that it’s not doing well. Yet Verizon apparently believes that the work it put into Go90 can soon be used to build the latest entry into the streaming TV market.

The ever popular “people familiar with the matter” tell Bloomberg that Verizon is planning to launch a proper competitor in the online TV space sometime this summer.

The as-yet-unnamed streaming live-TV service would be independent of any other service Verizon currently offers, in the vein of Dish’s Sling, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. The package will reportedly include “dozens of channels,” and work on computers and mobile devices as well aso on TV-connected platforms like Roku. Sources tell Bloomberg that it will probably be similarly priced to the competition as well, with offering tiers in the $20 to $65 range.

As you probably recall (from just a few paragraphs ago), Verizon does already have one streaming service: the poorly-named Go90. That launched in 2015 to basically zero fanfare as a free, ad-supported mobile app trying to entice the ever-popular millennial audience.

The coveted 18-34 demographic, however, has largely expressed very little interest in what Verizon has to offer. In Sept. 2016, several launch partners said outright that it was “an absolute dud,” performing “far, far worse than [Verizon’s] projections.”

A month later, Verizon even tried using free streaming NBA games to get folks to sign up for Go90, but that effort, too, appears to have fizzled out.

So Verizon’s trying again, with one last “3.0” reboot, Business Insider reports.

So far, former Go90 employees tell BI, the company has mostly just overpaid badly for long runs of content that then failed to ever find viewers.

“They went in guns blazing and spent all the money,” one former employee told BI, but without a strong strategy, instead just buying everything. That left the company spread too thin, trying to be something to everyone instead of focusing on an audience niche and then growing from there.

Leadership started to get a better handle on how to manage Go90 over time, the sources told Business Insider, and now executives are focusing on a few successful areas: live sports, especially soccer; original sports-related programming; and dramas that particularly appeal to young women and teenage girls. The company is also pulling back on its “mobile only” stance, becoming less “maniacally focused on the smartphone,” BI writes.

With its big 3.0 push, Go90 is trying hard to fix the ills that still plague it, especially including discoverability. In short, when it’s hard to find good content on a platform, viewers just… won’t. They’ll go elsewhere. So Verizon bought up a recommendation and discovery tool called Vessel, shut Vessel down, and had all its people entirely rebuild Go90.

And that brings us back to Verizon’s rumored new non-cable competitor. The new, improved Go90 platform isn’t just for Go90 anymore: A Verizon executive told Business Insider that the plan is to use it to help launch a new set of video apps, too, calling it “a platform we can build upon.”

Verizon insiders describe the fight to save go90, its video service that has burned more than $200 million trying to catch the eye of millennials [Business Insider]
Verizon Said to Plan Online TV Package for Summer Launch [Bloomberg]