Verizon appears to be struggling to find the perfect content strategy for its yet-to-launch online streaming TV service, which is now delayed until at least spring of 2018. The company continues to negotiate programming deals, even as the service’s launch date gets pushed back for the second time so far.
But Verizon is not in two minds about launching the service. CEO Lowell McAdam has already acknowledged that it is “absolutely critical” for Verizon to have a presence in the online streaming TV market, but also recognizes that it is becoming “a crowded field.”
That’s an understatement of humungous proportions. The competition already has a significant head start, with Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue having gotten out of the gate early on. And that’s not even counting powerhouses like Netflix and Amazon, which have already captured significant market shares in the realm of streaming video and TV.
But McAdam doesn’t seem concerned about his company being late to streaming TV. In fact, the company still seems to be mulling over the decision to launch a standalone service, as opposed to a partnership with another player in the space.
The fact of the matter is, Verizon is yet to finalize and sign distribution agreements with media companies for content delivery, which could be one direct cause of the second delay to the launch date.
Verizon’s past attempt at a streaming service, Go90, fell short of expectations, as the company itself admitted, but it’s been working on the technology behind Go90. But other problems have contributed to Verizon’s current situation in this market as well. Last month, news broke that Marni Walden would be stepping down as head of Verizon’s media division. The onus of fixing Go90’s problems now rest squarely on the shoulders of Oath CEO Tim Armstrong.
But Oath, which was formed to bring Verizon’s online media and advertising assets under one umbrella, has problems of its own, not the least of which are legal issues arising from its agreement to buy key assets of Yahoo Inc., as well as recent news that all 3 billion of Yahoo’s user accounts were compromised in a 2013 cyberattack.
For now, however, Armstrong’s mandate is to integrate the company’s ad placement technology with the online streaming TV service that the company plans to launch.
Such delays have given the impression that Verizon’s strategy for online streaming TV is still not set in stone. That doesn’t necessarily mean it does not have a strategy, just not one that’s clearly visible to the media at this point.