Verizon Finds A Way To Leverage Traditional Media In Streaming World

Maybe you don’t need to own premium video TV and movie content. Just ask Verizon. It can be too daring, too risky, too messy.

The last part would seem to be an issue for AT&T, ever since its acquisition of Time Warner. Then add DirecTV to the mix.

It hired Robert Greenblatt about a year ago, after his departure at NBCUniversal, to help push its premium digital video platform. But he was let go recently. Only a few months before, senior Turner executive Kevin Reilly was also given additional streamer responsibilities. Now he's out, as well.

Earlier, more entertainment feathers were ruffled when other Turner senior executives -- David Levy and Donna Speciale -- moved out.

True, there are always cuts to make in an $85.4 billion acquisition. New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar (former head of Hulu) understands this -- even stuff that happened before he got there.

Not related, perhaps we should mention AT&T acquired DirecTV for $49 billion a few years before. And how is that doing now?



So if you are Verizon, you must be thinking: Maybe it isn’t all that good to be the acquirer of everything media and communications-oriented. Instead, find a way to become a key access point to premium streaming services -- but not with actual ownership.

Verizon has been a successful launch partner boosting the debut of Disney+ last November. Core Verizon customers got Disney+ free for a year. Now, this has been extended to include Walt Disney’s package of streamers: Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

This isn't new. In 2017, T-Mobile’s started a promotional deal offering free Netflix — “Netflix on Us” — when you buy its other services.

All this has been followed by a Apple TV+ deal offering a discounted CBS All Access/Showtime streaming platform package.

While Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock have seen major business metric gains and big headlines, given their obvious longtime TV/movie production roots, Apple isn’t backing down from finding the right approach to capitalize on the explosive growth of premium streaming services.

To be sure, Verizon has its own past big acquisition digital content issues — AOL ($4.4 billion in 2015) and Yahoo! ($4.5 billion in 2017) — according to some analysts.

But overall, these promotional deals — Verizon’s mobile and/or broadband business with non-owned big streaming platforms or Apple promotional efforts to package streamers to the purchase of its digital products — is a good thing.

The bigger question is: How long can this model work?

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