Verizon Loses Q1 Pay-TV Subs, Adds Broadband

Verizon Communications continued the ongoing trend among multichannel video distributors supplanting declining pay-TV subscribers with high-speed internet customers.

The mobile carrier April 22 said it lost 78,000 Fios Video subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared with a loss of 85,000 subs in the previous-year period. Verizon ended the period with almost 3.5 million video subs — down 277,000 subs from last year.

Meanwhile, Fios Internet added 55,000 subscribers in the quarter, which was down from a net add of 98,000 broadband subs in the previous-year period. Verizon ended the period with almost 6.6 million high-speed internet subs — up from 6.3 million subs last year.

“Our operational performance in the first quarter further positions Verizon for long-term growth and increases our competitive standing in mobility, nationwide broadband, the value market, and above the network business solutions and applications,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

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Verizon to Launch ‘+Play’ Platform, Partners With Netflix

Verizon March 3 at an investor day event announced the pending test launch of +Play, a platform designed to market third-party streaming services to Verizon customers. The telecom reported it signed up Netflix and A+E Networks, among others, to the platform that will also enable Verizon customers to purchase and manage their Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Discovery+ and AMC+ services.

Verizon reported it would test the concept on select customers at the end of the month, with a nationwide rollout planned later this year. The telco, which offers no proprietary streaming options, has become a marketer for SVOD services Disney+, Discovery+ and AMC+ by affording its wireless subs free 12-month access.

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“+Play is a natural extension of our core strengths … [to] further enhance our ‘mix & match’ plan proposition by scaling choice through aggregation — choice of connectivity, choice of device and now choice of content and digital services with added perks and offers in a one-stop shop,” Manon Brouillette, EVP and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said in the investor presentation.

Verizon Lost 281,000 Fios Video Subs in 2021

Verizon Jan. 25 reported its lost 69,000 Fios Video pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2021. That was an improvement over the loss of 72,000 Fios Video subs in the previous-year period. For the fiscal year, Verizon jettisoned 281,000 pay-TV subs to end the year with more than 3.5 million — down from more than 3.8 million at the end of 2020.

Pay-TV’s loss continues to be broadband’s gain as the telecom said it added 55,000 Fios Internet net sub additions in the quarter. In full-year 2021, Verizon reported 360,000 Fios Internet net additions, the best annual performance since 2014. It ended the year with more than 6.5 million broadband subs — up 5.5% from 6.2 million at the end of 2020.

Total quarterly Fios revenue reached $3.2 billion, an increase of 5.7% year over year. Full-year 2021 Fios revenue was approximately $12.7 billion, up 4.6% year over year.

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“Verizon delivered another strong earnings performance this quarter,” CFO Matt Ellis said in a statement. He was alluding to the telecom’s strong wireless businesses and rollout of the 5G network. Verizon added 667,000 wireless retail subscribers, which included 336,000 phone net additions and 369,000 other connected device net additions, offset by 38,000 tablet net losses.

The company ended the year with more than 115.3 million wireless subs, up more than 22% from 94.3 million at the end of 2020.

“2021 was a transformational year for Verizon that will serve as a catalyst for us,” said CEO Hans Vestberg.

Verizon Adds Q3 Broadband Subs, Loses Video

Verizon Oct. 20 revealed it lost 68,000 video subscribers in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30), to finish the period with 3.6 million Fios TV subs. That compared with a loss of 61,000 video subs in the previous-year period. Over the past nine months, Verizon has lost 212,000 pay-TV subs, down from 226,000 subs during the previous-year period. Year-over-year, Fios TV lost 284,000 subs.

Offsetting the pay-TV losses was broadband, the high-speed Internet required to deliver streaming video the “last mile” into consumer homes.

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Verizon, along with Comcast, AT&T and others, is one of the largest ISPs in the country. The telecom said it added 98,000 broadband subs in the quarter, down from 139,000 additions in the previous-year period. The company ended the period with almost 6.5 million broadband subs, up from 6.1 million last year. Over the past nine months, Verizon has added 288,000 high-speed Internet subs, compared with a gain of 208,000 subs during the previous-year period.

“We are seeing strong demand for connectivity across our consumer and business segments as our … network quality and unique partnerships are resonating with both new and existing customers,” chief financial officer Matt Ellis said in a statement.

Verizon Drops Streaming NFL Games

Verizon, which once was the exclusive streaming provider of the Super Bowl, among other NFL games, is dropping over-the-top video distribution of the sport to focus on 5G and related wireless technology with the league.

Verizon Sept. 9 announced a 10-year pact with the NFL that will utilize 5G to support innovation and technology adoption throughout the league. The partnership builds on the more than 10-year relationship between the two companies that paved the way for the installation of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service in parts of 25 NFL stadiums. Over the next decade, Verizon and the NFL will utilize 5G to unlock advancements that could have the ability to impact management, scouting, training, health and safety, and game day operations.

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“For the past decade, Verizon has been one of our key technology partners, helping with everything from digital distribution of NFL content, engaging our fans at the NFL’s biggest events, enhancing communications throughout the NFL ecosystem and upgrading technology within stadiums across the League,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Over the past two years, Verizon has expanded 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity within those venues and surrounding areas, and has partnered with the NFL on in-stadium fan experiences like Verizon 5G Multi-View, which enables fans to view up to seven simultaneous camera angles and AR overlays of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats on select 5G-enabled phones. Verizon 5G Multi-View will continue to be available during the 2021 season in select NFL Club phone apps for fans in-stadium on gameday.

Meanwhile, the NFL has expanded streaming rights with Amazon Prime Video, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Disney-owned ESPN+, and ViacomCBS-owned Paramount+, among other channels.

Verizon Offering Free 12 Months to AMC+ Streaming Service

Verizon’s portfolio of free subscription streaming services offered to new phone, wireless and broadband subs has a new member. Starting Aug. 12, new Fios customers at all speeds, or customers with select Verizon Unlimited plans, can receive up to 12 months of AMC+, the platform featuring content from AMC Network, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited, including early access to episodes of the final season of “The Walking Dead,” beginning Aug. 15.

Verizon made headlines in 2019 when it offered its customers free 12 months to upstart streaming service Disney+, a strategy that helped the Disney SVOD jumpstart subscription. The promotion also includes Hulu and ESPN+. Separately, Verizon offers six free months access to Apple TV+.

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“Enhancing the way that fans enjoy their beloved content is at the center of what we do at Verizon,” said Erin McPherson, head of content partnerships at Verizon.

Eligible Verizon customers will be able to stream the final season of “The Walking Dead” premiere one week before it appears on television.

“Over the last year, we have seen tremendous interest in AMC+ from consumers and our distribution partners, and the launch of this new partnership with Verizon couldn’t be better timed,” said Josh Reader, president of distribution and development for AMC Networks.

AMC programming includes “Mad Men,” “Rectify,” “Orphan Black,” “Portlandia,” “Hell on Wheels,” “NOS4A2,” among many others. The service also offers a growing slate of original and exclusive series, including “Gangs of London,” “The North Water,” “The Beast Must Die,” “The Salisbury Poisonings,” “Cold Courage,” “Spy City,” “Too Close” and the forthcoming drama “Kin.”

When activating a new line, a new or existing Verizon customer who purchases a 5G phone with a device payment plan on a Play More, Do More, or Get More Unlimited plan gets 12 months of AMC+. Existing customers on Verizon Unlimited plans get six months of free streaming.

When all promotional periods end, subscribers are automatically rolled over into $8.99 monthly subscription plan unless deactivated by the customer.

New Verizon Fios customers who sign up for one of the new Mix & Match on Fios home Internet plans — with no data caps and no annual contracts — get 12 months of AMC+.

Customers who sign up for Fios Gigabit may also be eligible for other perks of Fios, including a free Samsung Chromebook, Verizon Whole-Home Wi-Fi for getting better coverage in more areas of the home, and 2TB of Verizon Cloud storage.

Verizon: Fios TV Q2 Subs Down, Broadband Up

Verizon July 21 disclosed that while its legacy Fios TV service continues to lose pay-TV subscribers, the losses are more than offset by increases in high-speed internet subscriptions — gateways for third-party over-the-top video distribution into homes.

Verizon has no branded streaming service, but it is offering select mobile customers upwards of 12 months free access to Disney+ and Discovery+.

Fios TV ended the second quarter (ended June 30) with more than 3.7 million subscribers, which was down 270,000 subs from the previous-year period. In the quarter, Verizon lost 62,000 net subs compared with a loss of 81,000 subs last year.

At the same time, Fios broadband ended the period with almost 6.4 million high-speed Internet subs, up 421,000 subs from the previous year period. In the quarter, Fios added 92,000 broadband subs, compared with 10,000 net additions last year.

“The strength in our core business is driving higher revenues and strong demand for our products and services,” CFO Matt Ellis said in a statement. “We delivered strong operational and financial performance, giving us positive momentum as we end the first quarter. High-quality, sustainable wireless service revenue growth, a recovery in wireless equipment revenues, strong Fios momentum and excellent Verizon Media trends led the way.”

Disney+, Verizon Partner to Deliver Streaming Content Faster to Consumers

The Walt Disney Company and Verizon recently began testing advanced content caching technology affording Fios fixed network subscribers faster access to Disney+ streaming content.

Based on specifications developed by the Streaming Video Alliance and Verizon’s existing edge caching capabilities, the companies have collaborated on a trial platform that stores the most requested streaming video content, like “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” in network facilities closer to the customer, which results in content starting faster, while also reducing freezing, pausing or playback failures during streaming.

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“This trial with Disney is another step in our journey with a global brand that is providing value for our shared customers,” Kyle Malady, chief technology officer for Verizon, said in a statement.

Verizon and Disney+ partnered with the launch of the SVOD in 2019, affording Verizon wireless subscribers 12-months free access to the SVOD. The promotion has been key to Disney+ generating more than  100 million paying subs in less than 18 months.

Caching popular Internet content at the network edge closer to end users is a standard ISP network management practice that has long been a part of the Internet’s architecture.

By storing content closer to customers, the data travels a shorter distance over the network, through fewer routers and switches, reducing delays in delivery of content to the customer. As a result, customers are able to start streaming content more quickly and face fewer potential network events that could cause freezing or buffering. In this trial, FIOS customers throughout the Verizon FIOS footprint were able to access Disney content using Open Caching.  Results from the trial showed faster start times for content, smoother streaming, and less buffering.

Verizon said it is exploring conversations with other content providers, including news organizations, gaming companies, and other entertainment providers to use open caching technology.

Open caching for wireless customers is also under development. With the virtualization built into the wireless network and the server space on the edge of the network developed over the past few years, the wireless network is aiming to deliver an enhanced viewing experience for customers while on the go.

“The ability for us to scale Disney+ internet distribution and create optimal streaming experiences for subscribers around the content is paramount to our continued success as the flagship streaming service from The Walt Disney Company,” said Joe Inzerillo, EVP and CTO.

CFO: Verizon to Up Free Entertainment Offers on 5G, Sticking With Fios TV

Verizon has made news in recent years offering its wireless subscribers free 12-month access to Apple Music, Disney+, Discovery+ and most recently, Apple Arcade and Google Play Games. As the telecom expands its 5G Network nationwide, expect to see enhanced third-party entertainment options, according to CFO Matt Ellis.

Verizon CFO Matt Ellis

Speaking this week on the virtual Credit Suisse Communications Conference, Ellis didn’t have any new entertainment partners to announce, except to say that with the enhanced distribution options available with 5G, the entertainment options in the future would reflect the next-generation mobile phone and data communication standards.

“We got into video initially with Disney+ and it’s been a good one-and-a-half years now, right?,” Ellis said. “So we’ve had that out there and then, obviously, Discovery+ earlier this year. And so gaming was the obvious next piece to come there. And obviously, we’ve had that in the past couple of weeks with the Apple Arcade and Google Play. Too soon to already kind of see anything huge in the numbers, but certainly, the initial feedback is very much in line with expectations.”

Ellis said Verizon is analyzing what entertainment options, including live events, it could offer subscribers in a 5G world that wouldn’t be as possible in a 4G world.

“It is in line with how we’re thinking about it,” he said. “I’m not going to give anything away at this point, but certainly fair to say we expect there to be more to come.”

Separately, when asked whether Verizon might meld Fios TV into an online service in order to reduce content/distribution costs, Ellis said the telecom would be sticking with the pay-TV brand, which includes a broadband-only option.

“What we do in that space is we give customers choice,” Ellis said. “If a customer wants broadband only, we absolutely will do that for them. We love that proposition. We saw our customers who want the traditional TV package. We have that as well. It may not be as valuable to us as when we launched Fios over 15 years ago, but it’s also not a negative to the business either.”


CEO: Verizon Embracing Third-Party Streamers, Not Content

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on May 25 said his first move as chief executive was to transition Verizon away from emulating other media companies locked in a streaming arms race.

“That was a very deliberate decision already three years ago when I declared that we are not going to buy linear content,” he said.

Instead, the telecom has embraced SVOD platforms such as Disney+ and Discovery+, music streamer Apple Music and now Google cloud gaming, offering its mobile subscribers free access to third-party platforms.

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“For many of the [direct-to-consumer platforms] coming out in the market today, they need guys like us in order to get to the [consumer],” Vestberg said on the virtual JPMorgan 49th Annual Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference. “We are the biggest DTC in this market when it comes to payments paid.”

Indeed, Verizon has been key to the rapid subscriber growth for Disney+, offering telecom subs 12 months of free service. The deal was replicated for Discovery+, which is now set to merge with WarnerMedia and HBO Max.

“I would say, any subscription business in the U.S. wants to partner with us right now,” Vestberg said, adding that the telecom is looking for the right type of brands — the type that give value to Verizon subscribers.

“Ultimately, it is a win-win, because it is accretive to us and it is accretive for the ones that we’re working with because we are handling a lot of subscribers for them,” he said.

In 2018, Verizon pulled the plug on go90, a failed $1 billion experiment to entice millennials with original and licensed streaming video content for portable devices. Then-CEO Lowell McAdam retired shortly thereafter, and  Vestberg from the start appeared determined to refocus the telecom’s business model around wireless connectivity and 5G — the latter targeting 50 million households this year.

Vestberg sold Verizon’s media assets as quickly as he could find buyers. Earlier this month, the telecom announced an agreement with former Redbox owner Apollo Global Management, selling a majority stake in Verizon Media for $5 billion. The segment includes Yahoo, AOL, Huffpost, TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports, among others.