Commentary

Verizon's Video Plan: Slow Start Possible, But Look Out

Verizon’s new video service, built around the idea that mobile video is the way video is headed, will still launch later this summer but apparently all the bells and whistles might not be there.

As reported at The Donohue Report, which seems to lead the league in Verizon-watching, CFO Fran Shammo seemed to back track a little on the new service, which, in both senses of the word, may someday soon be a game changer.

“It won’t be the full entire of everything we contemplate within the product set. It will be an initial launch, and as the year goes on it will progress,” Shammo said on a Verizon earnings call, Donohue noted.

That’s not like saying Verizon’s going back to the drawing board, but apparently Verizon hasn’t lined up a lot of cable networks that want to come to their party. 

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It has deals with HGTV and Food Network from the Scripps Network. Other major cable deals are still waiting to happen. Verizon also has deals with Awesomeness TV and Vice TV and can pick from a bunch of video from its new acquisition, AOL.  That might be enough to launch, but it’s not a content package that will shake up the world.

The really cool thing is what Verizon is really vague about, but that is the game changer. By this September, the Donohue Report says, Verizon will announce that it will broadcast NFL games on its LTE platform. Possibly that might be limited to telecasts only from the site of the game, to people at the game, but offering a zillion different views, stats and whatever the fully absorbed NFL fan wants.

That just sounds like another interesting thing. 

But it’s more than that because Verizon is pushing around a video service that, it would seem, has some extraordinary ability to become a very 21st Century kind of narrowcaster of all kinds of things, not necessarily just games and concerts at venues, but yeah, that too.  And what a demo: Enormous stadiums across the country.

But later, those venues "could be a golf course, a theme park, a department store,” Verizon’s Jack Arky told The Donohue Report earlier.  Use your imagination.

And the Verizon vision might be to let advertisers offer phone users access, and pay the data charges. In return, the consumer sees some commercials.

It may not start out that way, but it might end up that way. If Verizon’s LTE perfects a more or less individualized package of content, facilitated by mobile phones with reduced cost data packages, that’s a game changer.

pj@mediapost.com

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