What Happened with Verizon’s Go90?


Mar. 30 2018, Updated 7:30 a.m. ET

Go90 sought to attract a young audience

Verizon (VZ) revealed in mid-February that it was folding its Go90 mobile video service into its Oath unit, the digital media and advertising arm that Verizon built out of the AOL and Yahoo assets it acquired.

Go90 launched in 2015 as a free mobile video service supported by advertisements. It appealed to a demographic that is more likely to sign up for an online video plan than a traditional pay-TV package.

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Countering cord cutting

Verizon launched Go90 at a time when traditional pay-TV providers were stepping up efforts to counter the threat of cord-cutting by launching their own streaming video services. Dish Network (DISH) launched its Internet-based television service Sling TV in January 2015, and Sony (SNE) followed in its footsteps shortly after with PlayStation Vue in March 2015. Go90 launched in October 2015, followed by AT&T’s (T) DIRECTV Now in November 2016. Walt Disney (DIS) is gearing up for the launch its own Netflix (NFLX) challenger. However, Go90 struggled to attract a meaningful user base, leading to Verizon reducing its Go90 team by slashing some jobs.

Go90 struggled from the beginning

While speaking at Recode’s Code Media conference, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong suggested that Go90 was more of an experiment than a real product. “It was highly likely we’re going to stub our toe a huge number of times,” said Armstrong after stating that Go90 was trying to start an Internet mobile video service from scratch.

Folding Go90 into Oath could see Go90 content distributed more broadly. The merging of Go90 into Oath could also yield operational efficiencies for Verizon, which sees Oath becoming a $20 billion business by 2020. Verizon posted an $18.8 billion profit in 4Q17, boosted by US tax cuts.


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