Verizon Wireless customers to get HBO Now access; HBO content coming to OTT video service

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) said that its subscribers will be able to access HBO Now, the offering from the premium TV network that lets customers access its content without a TV subscription. Verizon also said that HBO content, though not necessarily HBO Now, will be part of its over-the-the-top mobile video service, which is continuing to get fleshed out.

HBO said it struck a deal with Verizon to bring HBO Now "to Verizon digital platforms, including to more than 100 million Verizon Wireless customers and other consumers with handsets and/or tablets." Verizon and HBO did not say when Verizon Wireless customers will be able to access HBO Now via their cellphone service, but The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter, said it will happen "soon."

The service is also immediately available to all Verizon standalone broadband customers, including FiOS and high-speed Internet customers, for a 30-day free trial. 

Importantly, the companies said in a statement that "HBO content will also be coming soon to Verizon's upcoming mobile video platform." However, it's unclear what that means exactly.

According to Re/code, HBO Now will not be a core part of Verizon's new service, which reports have indicated will be free at launch and supported by advertising. Instead, Re/code reported, HBO may decide to distribute some of its shows as samplers on the service, as it currently does on YouTube and Facebook. The Journal also reported that the OTT video service is likely to offer some sampling of HBO content, and not a full subscription.

The OTT mobile video service will reportedly be called "Go90" and will offer users both full episodes of TV shows from certain networks as well as music videos and other shorter pieces of content, according to a recent Variety report. The report, citing information from a pre-launch website for the service that was live but has since been taken down, said that initially the service will be entirely free of charge.

According to the report, while Go90's iOS and Android apps are going to be free to download, at least some of the content will be exclusive for Verizon's wireless subscribers.

Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo confirmed last week that the OTT video product will be launched in "late summer," which technically could come as late as the third week of September.

Earlier this month Verizon announced that it signed a multi-year deal with Vice Media to bring Vice's content to the service. Verizon has also pledged to offer 200 hours of original programming from YouTube video specialist AwesomenessTV, sports programming from ESPN and CBS Sports, and made-for-cable reality series from Scripps Interactive Networks.

According to the Variety report, the Verizon website also listed other as-yet unannounced content partners, including Victorious, GoPro and Vevo, and screenshots of the Go90 app published on the site indicated that the service will also have content from Fox and AMC. Go90 will also include content from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV via a partnership with Viacom, the report said. There were also references to NFL content, for which Verizon owns the mobile rights, the report noted.

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Re/code article 

Related articles:
Report: Verizon's mobile OTT video service to be called 'Go90,' will have some content exclusively for Verizon Wireless subs
Vice joins AwesomenessTV, ESPN, others in providing content for Verizon's upcoming mobile video service
Verizon signs Scripps deal for upcoming mobile video service
Verizon adds college-sports programming to upcoming mobile video service
Verizon's OTT mobile video service will support sponsored data
Verizon to focus on ad-based business model for OTT video offering

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