Launched earlier this month, go90 is Verizon’s answer to the youth market that has given up on cable TV and tends to get addicted to all kinds of things on its phones.
The company aims to create a one-stop destination for sports, news, and original entertainment series, all as fast-paced as the attention spans of a busy Millennial. Verizon hopes to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
The brainchild of Brian Angiolet, senior vice president of consumer products at Verizon, the free app (available for iOS and Android phones) began to take form two and a half years ago, when Angiolet started crunching the numbers and realised paid TV customers were declining, but viewership on mobile devices was skyrocketing.
“The fact that 41 per cent of Millennials are cord cutters, and their favourite content is not coming from traditional networks, this was a real opportunity to bring together content they want on a platform,” Angiolet recently told Business Insider, referring to people who have ended their cable TV subscriptions (or never started one).
The idea for go90 became a reality last September. Angiolet used the relationships he had from his media-buying days with prominent companies in web entertainment like Vice, AwesomenessTV, Machinima, and Maker Studios, to get them onboard and be the main pillars for the app’s original series.
Most of the companies that are involved with go90 will be providing content exclusive to app users, though Angiolet admits that in this beginning phase, users may see some content on the app that also appears on these companies’ YouTube pages.
For go90, Vice has developed “Daily Vice,” which is currently on the app and offers five- to seven-minute episodes that recap major news events. Vice also has “Autobiographies” premiering in December, which will profile cultural and lifestyle personalities.
AwesomnessTV is providing the sketch-comedy show “Betch,” which caters to the female audience. It’s also developing a hosted music show called “Top Five Live,” which Angiolet said will be similar to MTV’s popular early-2000s show “Total Request Live.”
Angiolet’s goal by the end of the quarter is to release 50-55 new original series that will generally range in episode running times of 3-7 minutes, though some will be as long as 22 minutes. Those longer pieces come from an existing Verizon exclusive deal with Viacom, which allows go90 to have a library filled with shows like “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (though many shows featured in that portion of the app are only available to Verizon Wireless customers). If all goes as planned, go90 will have substantially more original programs than Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.
Angiolet is also excited about go90’s sports deals. With the existing Verizon Wireless deal, app users get select NFL and NBA games to stream (both are still only available for Verizon Wireless customers; Angiolet hopes in the future go90 will be fully cross-carrier). go90 also recently signed a deal with beIN Sports that gives any app user 1,000 live games per year of European Premier League soccer.
As we discovered when we tried out the app, it’s easy to manoeuvre, and already filled with a lot of options, from original series and movie trailers to live streams of concerts that are exclusive to go90 (one was Kanye West live at the Hollywood Bowl, done in September when the app was still in beta). The app was going to live-stream the Live Earth concert last weekend, but the event was canceled due to the terrorist attacks in Paris.
A fun feature Angiolet hopes will catch on is “Cut and Share.” For most of the content on the app, you can tap the screen and, with a scissor icon, cut a moment from the content you’re watching, add a comment, and share it to your social media. Essentially, you can create your own meme.
“We’re taking things that we think are working out there, but also carving out a couple original, exclusive, and unique things that make us a little different,” Angiolet said of going up against more established companies like Netflix.
Angiolet wouldn’t go into specifics about the budget the app has in acquiring content or the number of people currently using the app, but he did admit that one of his goals within the next year is to build word of mouth around go90’s programming.
“We really want to build a reputation around these original shows only on go90,” Angiolet said. “I would love to be in the conversation with a lot of these other content providers and in a leadership position in that world.”
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