By Sahil Patel
Verizon (VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam reiterated the telecommunications giant’s interest in launching an alternative pay-TV service that would be delivered via the internet.
Speaking at the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas during CES, McAdam said the new over-the-top service, which would be “mobile first,” would probably offer 20 to 30 channels, with content that is very “compelling.” The CEO previously said that the service would include the four major broadcast networks, as well as a slew of other TV channels as well as content from digital networks like AwesomenessTV.
Internet-based pay-TV services are all of the rage right now as traditional media companies look to adapt to growing viewership on digital platforms.
Earlier this week, Dish Network unveiled its Sling TV service, which will offer 12 TV channels — including ESPN as well as content from Disney’s Maker Studios — for $20 per month. Sony also plans to launch an internet-TV service, though that will look like existing cable and satellite TV services that offer many, many channels that people don’t want to watch in addition to the ones that they do.
Verizon’s service is likely to debut in the second half of 2015, McAdam said, and will be independent of the company’s existing FiOS TV service. It will also be geared specifically toward millennials.
“Millennials are not signing up for 300 channels that they have to sit in front of the TV at 8 to see a certain show,” said McAdam, echoing comments he made at a Goldman Sachs conference last year.
With Verizon in the news for reasons beyond its internet-TV service, McAdam also took the time to deny a report that the company was interested in acquiring or forming a joint venture with AOL.
“We will be more of a partner with media companies rather than doing an acquisition,” he said. “AOL along with lots of other media companies are potential partners for us. But to say we are having significant acquisition discussions is really inaccurate.”
That doesn’t completely refute Bloomberg’s report, which said Verizon had approached AOL about potential deals, but no formal proposal was on the table.
That said, for now, Verizon is more interested in serving as a distribution platform for other people’s content, than a content owner itself. “I don’t see us as a content company, but rather a platform company,” said McAdam. “We will be an aggregator and distributor of content over our platform. And in the few instances where we have some content, we are already inserting advertising, and we’ll continue to do that. How far we move upstream depends on the economics. We’ll see how it shapes up in the next three to five years.”