Digital media and content marketing is a lucrative business, and the major carriers in the US are desperately trying to tap into it, competing with companies like Netflix and Hulu. Verizon has rolled out their go90 service and T-Mobile is competing with its Binge-On program. One notable exception to this trend is Sprint, with their focus aimed at providing a better Internet experience to its customers and allowing them to watch everything without forcing carrier-curated content. But in comparison to the investments made in go90, it seems the response has been somewhat underwhelming.
Verizon rolled out their app-only go90 program in October 2015 and aimed it at teenagers who’d rather watch shows on their cell phones than be hooked to the television screen and bound by schedules. It features shows from traditional television networks like Comedy Central, and also allows the subscriber to watch live NFL games through its app. Verizon has also partnered with YouTube and NBA to provide exclusive content to its subscribers. The US carrier has already committed a significant investment to helping build the media business, and content providers are satisfied with the growth of the service. But there is one crucial part of the business that has been left disappointed in go90’s performance: advertisers.
Revenue from advertisement is one of the primary sources of income for any digital media business, apart from subscription fees. Failure to woo advertisers to its service might come as a reality check to Verizon and its high hopes for the go90 video streaming service. The biggest challenge Verizon faces is generating popularity with the app and retention of subscribers. Ad buying firm Horizon Media’s vice president Niki DeCou notes that it is challenging and requires exceptional marketing skills and a good amount of exclusive content to convince users to try out a new service and generate enough interest to have them come back for more.
Verizon’s decision to make the service app-only has also been criticized by many, as a plethora of well-established alternatives is already available on both Android and iOS. Unless Verizon can establish itself uniquely in a market teeming with competition, it it hard to see how the app can make an impact. According to Verizon, it will take at least two years for the service to be profitable to the carrier. If Verizon can succeed in growing a significant subscriber-base, then they will have the infrastructure in place to make go90 a full-fledged hit in the digital media market. Verizon recently acquired exclusive rights to Craig Piligian’s reality show “The Runner” and it has proved to be a massive hit among viewers, generating more than a million views. Even if the growth is slow, Verizon is maintaining a patient approach to developing and marketing the go90 service.