Verizon’s Go90 partners start to lose faith, call platform ‘absolute’ dud, but signs of audience persist

Image: Verizon

Already fighting an uphill battle to ramp up original content amid seemingly insurmountable competition in the area of mobile video, Verizon’s nearly year-old Go90 platform is now taking flack from disappointed programming partners. 

“Early on, we thought the platform had promise, but it was an absolute dud when it launched,” said a Go90 publishing partner, speaking to Digiday

“We get the sense that unless you’re one of the premier folks they paid piles of money to [for original content], there isn’t much there from a traffic perspective,” added another content partner to the publication. “Based on the plan they had originally laid out, it would have been a mid-tier platform for us – millions of views per month, at worst – but it’s turned out to be far, far worse than their projections,” said yet another.

One Go90 content partner referred to the mobile video platform as “slow 90” due to the fact that it is attracting audiences of thousands for some shows, not millions. 

In an effort to find traction in a competitive market, analysts estimate Verizon has spent around $200 million recently on new, exclusive shows for the platform – not the $6 billion spent by Netflix, but a sizable investment, nonetheless. 

In its feature on the 11-month-old platform, Digiday does find reasons for optimism.

One of the early criticisms of Go90, the article noted, was that for all of the money Verizon was spending on the service, it didn’t really have much of a content and distribution strategy. 

“Unsurprisingly, the phone company trying to become a media company didn’t have many seasoned media executives,” Digiday said.

That changed when the company hired 10-year NBCUniversal veteran Chip Canter as its digital media GM in March to help better monetize the telecom’s non-FiOS digital media businesses. One of Canter’s first moves was to bring in Ivana Kirkbride, a former YouTube and Vessel executive, as chief content officer. 

As Canter and Kirkbride have built out a staff at Verizon with more of a background in media business, and better clarified Go90’s content strategy, there have been a few green shoots.

According to mobile app analytics firm App Annie, Go90 is now drawing several million active users per month. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that The Runner, an original short-form series from Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, had more than a million viewers.

For more:
- read this Digiday story

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