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 to 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,” Chief Financial Officer 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.

 

 

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Verizon Adds 5G to 60 Sports Arenas; Inks Deal With 15 NBA Teams

With the NBA playoffs upon us, and increasing numbers of fans allowed back into sports arenas, Verizon May 20 announced the deployment of 5G Ultra Wideband in 14 sports arenas and multiyear agreements as the exclusive 5G partner of the 15 NBA teams who play at these venues. The deal brings the total number of arenas and stadiums enabled with 5G to more than 60.

Verizon claims its 5G technology affords users wireless speeds up to 4 Gbps in some places under ideal circumstances, giving them the potential to download and stream movies and TV shows in seconds, video-conference and collaborate on the go in near real time.

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Fans with a 5G-compatible phone can point their devices at a player and get live stats and real-time information about that player. Arenas also have the ability to innovate around public safety, access, concessions and crowd management.

“As fans return to live events, the need to reimagine the in-arena experience and operations has accelerated and [5G] is a critical component,” Brian Mecum, VP of device technology for Verizon, said in a statement. “The deployment of 5G in these arenas is the foundation for unlocking future fan experiences and [marketing] solutions for venue operations.”

Verizon 5G network applications for fans include “ShotTracker,” enabling its sensor-based technology to collect and share game stats with low latency, faster and more accurately than any other platform. The technology, which uses Amazon Web Services’ ‘Wavelength’ features, is currently being tested at a practice facility for the Phoenix Suns. With this technology, teams and broadcasters have the potential to use data to automate the tracking of player shot selection, ball movement and player efficiency to provide near real-time, in-game analysis.

Verizon’s team partnerships and 5G Ultra Wideband-enabled venues include:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers — Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
  • Denver Nuggets — Ball Arena
  • Detroit Pistons — Little Caesars Arena
  • Golden State Warriors — Chase Center
  • Los Angeles Lakers & L.A. Clippers — Staples Center
  • Memphis Grizzlies — FedExForum
  • New York Knicks — Madison Square Garden
  • Oklahoma City Thunder — Chesapeake Energy Arena
  • Phoenix Suns — Phoenix Suns Arena
  • Portland Trail Blazers — Moda Center
  • Sacramento Kings — Golden 1 Center
  • Utah Jazz — Vivint Arena
  • Washington Wizards — Capital One Arena

 

Verizon was previously announced as the official 5G mobile partner of the Philadelphia 76ers. Verizon 5G is also available in Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

The venues are part of the growing list of stadiums and arenas with Verizon’s 5G network available in parts of more than 70 cities, 11 airports, and more than 60 stadiums and arenas. Verizon 5G Nationwide is available to more than 230 million people in over 2,700 cities. Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength is currently available in 10 cities across the U.S.

Verizon Offering Limited Free Access to Sling TV

In a marketing twist, Verizon is making it easier for its subscribers to discover a new way to watch television — on a competitor’s platform. Starting May 19, new and existing Verizon subs with a wireless, Fios TV or 5G Home account can get two months of Sling TV service for free. The platform’s domestic and international services cost $35 monthly thereafter. Spanish-language Sling costs $15 monthly after a three-month free trial on Verizon.

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Launched 2015 by Dish Network, Sling TV was the first standalone online TV service that offered access to marquee pay-TV channels such as ESPN without a traditional bundled subscription. Verizon subs can download the Sling app on their streaming devices and then watch news, sports and 80,000 on-demand TV shows and movies.

“We’ll continue to lead the market with our delivery of not only unmatched value in live TV, but also unique, customer-centric packaging flexibility and innovation across live sports, news and entertainment,” Michael Schwimmer, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement.

To get two months of Sling TV on Verizon, sign in to the My Verizon App. Scroll down and tap the Sling TV tile. Review the redemption page and tap Go to Sling TV. Select a Sling TV service, and then create an account. You will be required to provide an email address and valid form of payment (credit card, debit card or PayPal). Check your email for a message from Sling confirming that your account has been activated and how to start streaming.

“This partnership enables our customers to watch live television when, where and how they want,” said Erin McPherson, head of consumer content and partnerships at Verizon. “We are excited to provide even more value and choice as we welcome Sling TV to our ecosystem of incredible partners and services.”

Verizon also has a free 12-month promotional deal with Disney+.

Verizon Loses 82,000 Fios TV Subs in Q1, Adds 98K Internet Subs

Verizon Communications April 21 disclosed it lost 82,000 Fios TV pay-TV subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31). The loss was a slight improvement from 84,000 subs lost in the previous-year period. The telecom ended the period with 3.7 million Fios TV subs — down 296,000 subs from more than 4 million last year.

Meanwhile, Verizon, like most ISPs, added high-speed Internet subs, including 98,000 in the quarter. That compared with a gain of 59,000 subs in the previous-year period. Total Fios Internet net additions in first-quarter 2021 were 102,000, the most Q1 total Fios Internet net additions since 2015. The company ended the fiscal period with 6.3 million — up 339,000 subs from last year.

Verizon is a promotional partner for Disney+, affording wireless subs free 12-month access to the streaming service.

“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.”

 

Verizon: Streaming Video Use Up 21% During Pandemic

Consumer habits during the ongoing pandemic have altered entertainment activities in the home. New data from Verizon found that traffic on major streaming video sites is currently 21% above pre-pandemic levels — supporting the notion that the nation has a larger appetite for streaming.

In a survey conducted by Morning Consult for Verizon, about 44% of respondents said the TV and streaming content has helped them connect with friends and family during the pandemic. Among those who currently stream content, 82% anticipate that they will be spending more or the same amount of time that they are now watching content through streaming services a year from now.

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Two-in-three U.S. adults (67%) said they have been spending at least three hours per week watching live TV. More than half (59%) said the same about watching content through a streaming service.

Nearly half of adults (47%) said they have subscribed to a new streaming service since the start of the pandemic. Most say they have binge watched shows at least once or twice (70%). While there is no final verdict on American’s preference to “binge watch” versus watch episodic content, 47% of younger respondents (Gen Z) said they prefer to binge.

Most U.S. adult households (62%) currently subscribe to a cable or satellite television service. Nearly 1 in 4 (23%) said they’ve cut the cord. Among millennials, more than 21% said they have never subscribed to a cable or satellite television service.

“The pandemic has forced all of us to face challenges we never considered,” chief technical officer Kyle Malady said in a statement. “A year into the pandemic, data usage on Verizon networks remains at almost 31% above pre-pandemic levels, a clear indicator that Internet consumption and the acceleration of technology adoption are major byproducts of this moment. We’ve seen the shift to digital jump ahead five to seven years.”

Meanwhile, mobile gaming has really taken off during the pandemic. Nearly 50% of respondents report that they have purchased or downloaded a mobile game at least once since the pandemic started, while 36% reported doing the same for a computer or console game.

Nearly a third of respondents (31%) said that they spend three or more hours a week playing games on their mobile devices. About one-third of adults who’ve spent time online gaming (32%) and talking to friends or family via video calls (32%) said they were spending more time doing these activities in the early months of the pandemic than they are now, while nearly half say they were spending about the same amount of time as they are now (45% and 46%, respectively).

Verizon Lost 298,000 Fios Video Subs in 2020

It may be a 5G future for Verizon, but the reality for the telecom’s Fios Video pay-TV service is ongoing subscriber losses. The company Jan. 26 reported 72,000 Fios Video net losses in the fourth-quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2020, reflecting the ongoing consumer shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings. Verizon lost 298,000 Fios Video subs in 2020 to finish the year with 3.85 million.

That compared with video losses of 51,000 and 225,000 in the previous Q4 quarter and fiscal year in 2019, respectively.

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Like other pay-TV operators, Verizon’s silver lining in the pay-TV subscriber exodus is ongoing growth in Fios high-speed Internet. While consumers covet Netflix & Co., they still need to pay a third party to get the services into their homes. Verizon added 92,000 broadband subs in Q4, 300,000 subs in 2020.

That compared with gains of 35,000 and 131,000 high-speed Internet subs, respectively, in 2019. Verizon ended 2020 with more than 6.2 million broadband subs.

“2020 was marked by transformational change, including the launch of our 5G nationwide network,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

Verizon once again is the exclusive mobile video streamer of upcoming Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay, Fla. The telecom also renewed its distribution agreement with Disney, affording wireless subs free 12-month access to Disney+ SVOD service.

“We are excited to lead technological advances beyond mobile devices, and create new opportunities for growth across multiple industries,” Vestberg said.

 

Verizon: Online Holiday Shopping Traffic Up 82%

With the annual post-Thanksgiving Black Friday retail event a week away, new research data suggests consumers have already begun their winter holiday shopping — online, with e-commerce traffic up 82% in November compared with the previous-year period.

The seventh annual edition of the Verizon Business Retail Trends Report finds holiday shopping surging early this year and confirms how COVID-19 restrictions and related health concerns could be linked to an increase in online shopping this holiday season.

Verizon says mobility traffic to and around the U.S.’s largest malls — as evidenced by their cell phones — has decreased dramatically from last year. According to the telecom, people are moving to and around malls 20% less than they did last year during early November. There’s also a 28% increase in use on payment sites versus last year.

“Our report confirms what we expected to be true, significant shifts continue from in-person, brick and mortar shopping to online shopping,” Michele Dupre, VP of sales vertical markets, retail and hospitality for Verizon Business, said in a statement. “What’s surprising and promising for retail stores is while mobility around U.S. malls is down from last year, it’s up significantly at 59% since the height of the pandemic. Online retailers will need to continue to invest in creative and innovative customer experiences, to capture revenue and offset lost sales from in-person shopping.”