June 29, 2018
As expected, Verizon is reportedly calling it quits on Go90, the oddly named ad-supported mobile-centric streaming video app launched in 2015 with much fanfare and hundreds of millions of dollars to the Millennial market.
“Following the creation of Oath [which includes Yahoo and AOL], Go90 will be discontinued,” Verizon said in a statement first reported by Digiday.com. “Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today’s mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications.”
Tim Armstrong, CEO of Oath, earlier this year alluded to Go90’s pending demise at the Recode tech confab in Southern California.
The end of Go90 underscores Verizon’s (and exiting CEO Lowell McAdam) failure to create a standalone streaming video platform capable of competing against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu – or online TV.
While Verizon still has exclusive mobile streaming access to the Super Bowl, the nation’s largest wireless telecom with more than 150 million subscribers continues to struggle in OTT video.
In 2014, the company – along with Redbox – shuttered Redbox Instant, an ambitious platform aimed at melding disc rental with streaming video.
With both companies unwilling or unable to enter the content arms race against Netflix & Co., Verizon – backed by a dedicated staff of Go90 employees – reportedly spent more than $200 million on original short-form content for the platform.
One of the service’s first big series was a reality-competition show produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, dubbed “The Runner”.
The series offered a $1 million prize to one contestant capable crossing the country unnoticed over a 30-day period while eluding eight two-person chase teams following clues.
The show had the misfortune of launching just as the Pokémon Go augmented reality game was becoming a summer cultural phenomenon among smartphones’ biggest target market: teens and Millennials.
Go90 did score a creative hit with Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning short film, Dear Basketball. Less so, apparently, with targeted audiences.