Not So Awesome: Content Rights Throttle Verizon OTT Service

CFO Fran Shammo suggested Tuesday that the “mobile first” video service Verizon will launch in “late summer” 2015 won’t initially fire on all cylinders, as negotiators scramble to sign deals with major content owners.

Shammo“It won’t be the full entire of everything we contemplate within the product set. It will be an initial launch, and as the year goes on it will progress,” Shammo said on Verizon’s second-quarter earnings call.

Shammo touted a handful of rights agreements Verizon has signed in recent months with new multichannel video programmers, including Awesomeness TV, DreamWorks (developing a Star Wars channel) and Vice Media. And he boasted that Verizon’s recent acquisition of AOL will give it enough video to program channels from Huffington Post and Tech Crunch.

But HGTV and Food Network parent Scripps Networks is the only major cable programmer that has announced an agreement to license its networks to Verizon for its over-the-top video service, which will be available initially on smartphones and tablets.

With Shammo promising the OTT product will debut “late summer,” look for Verizon EVP of Product and New Business Innovation Marni Walden and AOL chief Tim Armstrong to announce by September that Verizon will broadcast NFL games on its LTE multicast platform. But content rights may limit the Verizon NFL broadcasts to “in-venue streaming,” similar to the way it only streams multiple camera angles to users of its Indy 15 app that are within range of cell sites at Indy venues.

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