Verizon’s long-rumored live TV streaming service appears to be having some issues.
Bloomberg reported this past March that the telecom giant was planning to launch an online TV service that would ostensibly compete with the likes of Dish’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now over the summer. A couple months later, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam seemed to confirm that the company had its eyes on an over-the-top service, one that may use its new Oath brand.
But no new service ever came to pass, and now Bloomberg reports that Verizon is targeting next spring to try its luck in the growing online TV market. The report cites technical issues, staff turnover, and complications in programming rights negotiations as reasons for the delay, and the story notes that this is “at least” the second time the Web-based service has been delayed internally.
Verizon reported its Q3 earnings on Thursday and said it lost 18,000 net pay-TV subscribers over the course of the quarter, highlighting the cord-cutting trend that’s coercing cable providers like Verizon into offering cheaper online alternatives. On an accompanying conference call, Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said the company “think[s] that it makes sense for [Verizon] to play” in the over-the-top video market, but it doesn’t want to launch “just a me-too type product.”
“So we are continuing to look at what makes sense for us to launch something that's differentiated in that space,” Ellis said. “Probably around live programming. But how and when we launch something will be TBD.”
It’s not totally clear how the would-be service will compare to existing “skinny bundles” like Sling TV, whether it would involve a partnership of some sort, or how much it would cost. Past reports have said that it would live separately from Go90, the struggling YouTube competitor that Verizon overhauled earlier this year. Given that Verizon still has a stake in keeping people subscribed to cable, one would imagine it won’t try to undercut its FiOS TV business too much.
Whatever it looks like, though, any new service will be playing catch-up from the jump.
When reached for comment, Verizon reiterated that it's too soon to say what actions it may take in the future. "The Bloomberg report was very speculative and, as I told them, very risky on their part to try and predict something in the spring of next year for an industry changing so rapidly," Verizon chief communications officer Jim Gerace said.