go90 is approaching its first anniversary since announcing the mobile streaming platform last summer, a product which even Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam admits was “overhyped.” Afterall, the company did throw hundreds of millions at content creators for single year, domestic exclusivity only, with some baked-in expectations for renewals but without co-ownership of IP.
According to sources who have deals with Verizon, the telco-turned-mediaco, is in the process of revamping not only the go90 product, but its content strategy for the next wave of renewals and series pickups. At the end of last year, VideoInk noted that if go90 was to see success it would have to sharpen its product, make strategic acquisitions in media companies like WhistleSports and AwesomenessTV, and expand efforts in live streamed events. Add a good discovery or recommendation engine and go90, as a product, will be in a similar category to Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.
Verizon has begun to make those changes to the product and content strategy, under the leadership of recent hire Chip Canter. It’s also acquired majority stake in AwesomenessTV, and is rumored to be exploring similar deals with other production houses, in addition to the recent co-venture with Hearst. It’s also brokered deals to carry more live sports.
So while McAdam recognizes the business was perhaps a bit overzealous in its initial approach despite low expectations of “[moving] the needle on a $130 billion revenue stream overnight,” he noted, at an investor conference, that Verizon has “seen enough success to make [them] excited about continuing to work on it,” adding that “go90 is in a good spot from [the company’s] perspective.”
With a few major tweaks, the new product and content slate are expected to roll out in July, say various industry execs. (Click here for a list of shows and categories as well as the production companies behind them.)
Changes to distribution strategy are already underway as well. The team behind go90 has become less precious about distribution outside of go90’s owned and operated app. At launch in September 2015, the only way to access go90 series was via the app, which suprisingly was not pre-installed on Verizon-carrying devices. One might take a look at the comments and followers on the platform to date and conclude user acquisition has clearly been under mark. The claim might further be substantiated by taking a look at go90’s YouTube and Facebook channels, where even production darlings AwesomenessTV and Astronauts Wanted’s shows are surprisingly low in view counts (in the teens of thousands at best, on YouTube). Sources even claim that the NFL Super Bowl live stream produced underwhelming conversion for the streaming service.
Despite this, McAdam stayed firm that the business is on track. “We’re going to continue to pursue it. But our expectations are realistic.”
VideoInk has heard that various renewals have already been made for companies like DanceOn and Machinima, which a go90 rep has denied. However, until the renewals announcements are made, the first wave of content producers including New Form Digital, Whistle Sports, Jash, and others are at a stand-still.
So who had the most series and what are go90’s primary verticals from the first wave of licensing?