Verizon launches Go90 mobile OTT video service as trial for some VZW subs; full launch coming soon

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) launched a trial version of its over-the-top mobile video service, called "Go90," aiming to lure millennials with short-form video and flex its digital advertising muscles.  

According to Reuters, Verizon said customers will be able to download the service as a free mobile application, but that it will be offered initially to a select set of its own wireless customers, with advertisements from unidentified well-known brands. Verizon plans to use the ad technology it acquired from AOL in a $4.4 billion deal to bolster the ad-serving capabilities of the service. The service will launch officially to the public as soon as later this month, a Verizon spokesman told Reuters.

The service comes primed with around 100 to 200 hours of exclusive content from online video networks such as AwesomenessTV and Machinima, Brian Angiolet, Verizon's senior vice president, consumer products, told Reuters. The free service will drive revenue from customers' data usage and targeted advertising.

Verizon hopes AOL's technology will help it deliver more targeted and relevant ads to users by accessing their location and interests. Angiolet said AOL's technology is in the process of being integrated with Verizon's video service, and targeted advertising tools will be available over time.

Verizon is holding talks with advertisers and brands about content sponsorships and original-content creation, Angiolet told Reuters, adding that the service lets users post comments, form interest-based groups and clip and share videos in social networks. The service will start as a mobile-first product, but Verizon executives said they were thinking about creating streaming options that would work on traditional TVs as well, according to the New York Times.

According to the Times, Verizon executives made a conscious decision not to include the word "Verizon" when choosing a name for the OTT service, emphasizing that Go90 will be available to all wireless customers. The name refers to the act of turning a phone 90 degrees to watch video in landscape mode. Although the service would attract customers to Verizon's wireless service, the carrier wants to appeal to as wide an audience a possible to make it more lucrative for advertisers.  

The Times added that Go90 users will set up profiles to personalize customer viewing and that the service will continually update with new shows and content. "It's Hulu meets Twitter meets Netflix, with all of this social content," Marni Walden, EVP and president of products and new business innovation at Verizon, told the NYT.

The Go90 service does not include entire networks roster of shows, but rather includes popular shows from Comedy Central, Food Network, ESPN, NFL Network and Discovery, as well as popular online series from DreamWorks Animation's AwesomenessTV, Vice Media, Tastemade, Maker Studios and Machinima. Go90 will also feature National Football League games and live concerts.

For more:
- see this New York Times article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Variety article 

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