Verizon Said to Expand Go90 Video Service With Eye on Pay Model

  • Carrier will debut 50-55 news shows, sports, music festivals
  • Subscription version of go90 could come in 2016, sources say

Verizon Communications Inc. is adding new content to its free mobile video service, go90, to attract more viewers as the company explores the introduction of a subscription version in 2016, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier will begin a national advertising campaign on Nov. 9 to highlight the new offerings, which include 50 to 55 new shows it commissioned, broadcasts of live sporting events and performances from 12 to 15 music festivals, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The campaign will coincide with an update to Verizon’s go90 app, the people said.

Verizon, in pushing go90, is trying to drive growth from the maturing U.S. wireless business. The company is facing tough price competition from smaller carriers Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. as well as shrinking revenue in its landline business. The carrier introduced go90 last month with shows and short video clips aimed at teens and millennials in an effort to generate new advertising revenue. With premium content, Verizon is seeking to expand that user base.

Earlier Wednesday, Verizon and the National Basketball Association agreed to a marketing and programming pact that will include select live games and video highlights. The company has similar agreements with the National Football League and ESPN, in addition to content deals with media companies including Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc., Awesomeness TV Inc. and Vice Media Inc.

Despite mobile TV’s challenging history, Verizon is exploring new premium-content packages to sell on a subscription basis next year, according to the people familiar with the matter. The move would put the telecom giant head to head with streaming services like Netflix Inc., Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, as well as new entrants like Dish Network Corp.’s Sling TV and Apple Inc.’s planned streaming-TV offering.

The current go90 service is free to consumers regardless of their wireless service provider. Verizon subscribers get 2 free gigabytes of data for three months when they sign on, as watching go90 content counts against their data allotment.

The company is encouraging these early adopters to build followers by sharing videos via Twitter and Facebook. The name go90 refers to rotating a phone 90-degrees sideways for video viewing.

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