Verizon launching free mobile TV service Go90

Verizon plans to launch a free mobile video service called Go90 on Tuesday, by specifically inviting the young people it’s targeting in a bid to build a new business appealing to them.

Go90 is free, supported by ads rather than paid subscriptions. It will play a mixture of traditional TV, live programming like pro sports and shorter clips commonly associated with sites like YouTube. The company refers to it as “social entertainment,” a hint at its hopes that the viral nature of some videos may help G090 spread too.

The company is sending out invites to sign up to people it has identified in the generation it’s targeting: young people known as millennials, generally considered to be around 30 years old or younger.

Verizon is the latest company to chase “over the top” TV, which is delivered via the Internet or mobile networks, as a way to appeal to mobile customers turning their devices into on-the-go media centers. The biggest mobile carrier in the US, Verizon faces bruising competition in its main business from upstarts like T-Mobile and Sprint, and Go90 will set it apart from rivals. For consumers, it’s another step toward making video more accessible on the screen they’re closest to.

Go90 marks the first time that Verizon will offer a service to everyone — not just Verizon customers. But unlike other companies diving into Internet-delivered video, Go90 will only be available on mobile devices. Viewers won’t be able to use a Web browser on a laptop or PC to watch, nor will the video be available on TVs connected to the Internet through a streaming media box like a Roku or Apple TV.

Earlier this year, DirecTV launched its Sling TV with small packages of live-TV channels delivered online for $20 a month, and Sony followed suit with an Internet-delivered collection of more than 50 channels called Playstation Vue. Cable provider Comcast is expected to roll out a free streaming service soon that focuses on shorter videos, those commonly associated with platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Verizon’s Go90 service is a mix of traditional TV content and digital-era video sources. Among Verizon’s partners are Viacom, the parent of channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon; and AwesomenessTV, a teen-focused video brand that evolved from YouTube. The National Football League is also a key partner, although free streaming NFL games will still only be available to Verizon customers.

Go90 will also be a mix of live channels and on-demand shows.

It builds upon Verizon’s purchase of Intel’s never-launched OnCue Internet TV business last year for an undisclosed sum. It also marks another example of Verizon moving more into media, becoming a company involved with the content you watch on your phone and not just providing the utility by which you view it. The company will use the digital-savvy advertising technology it obtained through its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in May.


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